Monday, August 31, 2009

Suds just wanna have fun!

I can't wait till tonight! A wonderful lady I know very well, is hosting a SudsMuffin spa party! It is going to be such a blast! I love our spa parties. I get the chance to show my awesome customers and their friends a myriad of bombastically brilliant products. I will be introducing a couple of new products but I'm not telling what!

Today will also be the day for our sign to be reinstalled and Plasticraft seems to have gone out of their way to ensure that it will not come loose again. I will be so glad to see our lovely pink muffin flying again.

A special thanks to all the people who are helping to spread the word about SudsMuffin. That includes Leanne, Sheila, Courtney, Darlene, Leisa and many more. We really truly appreciate all of your efforts on our behalf.

I also will be doing another fall scent soap cake today. I think it will be Maple Syrup! I know, I'm evil, but I wear pink so I can get away with it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Taking care of those cracked summer heels

Cracked Heels (ouch!)

Summer time will soon be gone and with the warm air came sandals and flip-flops. To go along with this style of footwear came the dreaded cracked heels. This is a malady that is both preventable and readily treatable. We will first look at how to prevent the problem, and then if you're reading this too late, we'll help you treat the problem.

Preventing Cracked Heels
  1. Try to avoid open heeled shoes (sandals, flip-flops)
  2. Daily preventative moisturizing with a moisturizing cream or for more intensive moisturizing use pure Shea Butter)
  3. Exfoliate (pumice stones on wet skin, foot files and Ped-Eggs on dry skin)
  4. Limit hot showers and sauna or hot tubs (hot hot water is your enemy)
  5. Protect your feet in public swimming areas (wear water shoes or aqua socks)
Treating Cracked Heels

Moisture, Moisture, Moisture
The main cause of dry, cracked heels is the loss of moisture.

Here are the steps to take to relieve your discomfort:
  1. Soak your feet in warm water (never HOT water as this will dry your skin further)
    Soak your feet for at least 10 minutes each day in plain water or with a foot soak solution
  2. After soaking, towel dry your feet
  3. While feet are still damp, use a natural pumice stone on the cracked areas, only going in one direction. Do this over a towel to catch falling dry skin.
  4. Moisturize with a pure Shea Butter liberally all over the affected area and pop on some cotton socks for a few hours.
  5. Daily treatments may be required for several days.
  6. Once the skin is back to normal, a daily application of moisturizing cream should be used.
  7. A once a week treatment of the heels in the shower using a pumice stone will help maintain your touchably soft feet.
NOTE- If your heels are flaky, burning, itchy and not just dry and cracked, this may be a sign of a fungal infection. See a doctor for treatment.

SudsMuffin products to help your feet and heels:
Spa Fresh Foot Soak with Peppermint Tea Tree
Peppermint Tea Tree Foot Cream with Jojoba Micro-Beads
Whipped Shea Butter

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Re-labeling is a lot of work

Now that we have our new logo all done, Mrs SudsMuffin has been working hard at changing out the labels on all our products. This ensure a unified look throughout the whole store. And let's face it, that bubbly muffin looks awesome! Here's a look at some of the products with their new faces on.



I don't know about you, but I love the look! Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Sign is Back and has a BooBoo

Well our SudsMuffin sign was found and rescued and returned to us. It's a bit beat up from the obvious fall from the remnants of Hurricane Bill, but we'll see what Plasticraft have to say about it when they come by to check it out tomorrow. Overall though, I'm glad we have it back. I was a bit stressed about it today, to say the least. Welcome back home my beautiful bubbly sign!

**Aug 26- Update: We've turned the sign back over to Plasticraft and they are going to see if they can fix it. Stay tuned!

HELP!

I just arrived at the shop and my beautiful sign is gone! If you have seen it, please let me know! It seems that Hurricane Bill treated it rather unkindly and it came loose and fell to the ground. If you know who has rescued it, please let me know as it is quite costly to replace. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, SudsMuffin

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dancing in the rain

A few weeks ago, we were invited to participate in "Art in the Park" today on the beautiful Fundy Trail Parkway, just passed St Martins. Knowing that Hurricane Bill could be messy in our area today, we were told that if the weather was bad that the sale would be held in the Interpretive Center at the end of the Parkway. We packed up the SudsMuffinMobile with our favourite SudsMuffin products (and la familia SudsMuffin) and headed out for the 90 minute trek. When we arrived at the park, we were informed that the sale had been postponed until the following weekend due to the weather, which at that time was just a fair drizzle.

The Park attendant said that there was going to be a concert later that day in the Interpretive Center and that we were still welcome to go set up in there. So we decided that after driving all that way we would go and see what was going on. The folks at the Center apologized for not letting us know in advance that the event had been postponed but they welcomed us with enthusiasm and made us feel right at home. (The free coffee was nice).

We set up our display and waited for people to arrive. Although the crowd was small, we had a successful sales day nevertheless. Our MiniMuffin even got to view a huge tidal surge, safely of course. Moreover, there was a great deal of buzz created by our presence and many people are awaiting our return for the sale next week. This just goes to show you that when the weather isn't perfect, you just have to learn to dance in the rain.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Father's Pride

This past Saturday, I took my 11 year old daughter to watch the Pride parade. I felt that it was important for her to experience it. She really enjoyed watching all the colors and all the different people. We then went down to where the parade was culminating so I could meet my cousin, whom I did not know existed until about 2 months ago. My MiniMuffin had great fun mixing with the people, talking to those she knew and making new friends.

She was so excited to meet her new cousin that she jabbered about him all the way back to the SudsMuffin shop. She asked me what the parade was for so I did my best to explain it to her and I think she got the gist. She asked me what trans gender was. I explained my understanding to her and she came back with "so they just got put in the wrong bodies." The final question I asked her was "what was special about all the people in the parade?" She answered "nothing. They are all people just like me." Now, isn't that the whole point?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shea Butter- Did you know?


In the last couple of years, there have been more and more commercial products on the shelves of drug and department stores that contain "Shea Butter". These products extol the virtues of this purported miracle butter but do you really know what it is and where it comes from?

Shea Butter (pronounced shee as in tea) comes from a tree native to several West African countries including Ghana, Togo and Niger.

The Shea (or Karite) tree first produces its first fruits at about 20 yrs of age. At 45 years of age, the tree reaches full maturity. The tree will produce nuts for up to 200 years after maturity.

Shea butter is most known for its properties as a moisturizer and emollient. There have been unverified claims that it is also an anti-inflammatory agent. The current market for shea butter says that it is effective at treating the following conditions: eczema, burns, rashes (works for me), acne, blemishes, stretch marks, wrinkles, severely dry skin and chapped lips. Shea butter has natural UV sun protection but the amount can vary from nothing to approximately SPF 6, making it not the most reliable sun protection. Shea butter, if used properly and sparingly, absorbs into the skin without leaving a greasy feeling.

Shea butter is also favored among soapmakers because not all of its complex fats can be saponified (turned into soap), thus small amounts of oil stay in the soap, which in turn helps to keep moisture in the skin after bathing.

A word of caution if you have an allergy to latex: shea butter contains naturally occurring latex, though in minute quantities, but it can cause irritation or hives in people with this sensitivity.

Shea butter is also a very heavy butter and the adage of "less is more" definitely applies. Too much shea butter will sit on the surface of your skin and you may find the feeling unpleasant due to the excess greasiness.

Shea butter is melted and solidified in a very specific way so as to align the shea fibers and fatty crystals. If shea butter is remelted, it may form fatty crystals in it. These are harmless and can be massaged in to the skin but some people prefer their shea to be smooth and silky in texture.

If you want the best shea butter product, always look for it to appear high on the list of ingredients. This ensures a higher percentage of shea in the final product. Look for unrefined and fairly traded shea butter whenever possible. Unrefined shea maintains a characteristically nutty scent and varies from a creamy almond colour to golden or having a greenish tinge. Unrefined shea is closest to its natural form and is purported to be the most effective in this state.

Experiment with solid shea, whipped butters and other shea concoctions and see if it measures up to your own expectations. Personally, we are shea users for life.

(SudsMuffin whipped shea butter: get it here)

Friday, August 14, 2009

A True Story about Social Networking

Ever wonder what the big deal is with social networking? What is the hype all about? Well here's a simple little story about it that relates directly to me and to my little soap store in a small city on the east coast of Canada. I think this will help get the message across.

Recently, a great little restaurant called the Urban Deli opened in my city. I tried the food there and loved it so I blogged about it [here]. Then I posted on Twitter about my newest blog post [follow me on Twitter]. A local Tweeter saw my message and re-Tweeted it. The Urban Deli folks saw the re-Tweet and they even blogged about it [here].

A few days later, a customer walked into our store and bought from us, saying that she saw us mentioned on the Urban Deli blog. So it all came around full circle, thanks to Social Networking.

Here's a visual aid I drew up to demonstrate how it worked for us.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Time to Party

Are you at a loss for a great birthday party activity for your child's next birthday? How about an in-home MiniMuffin party with SudsMuffin? Kids from 8 to 16 will have a blast making their own bath and body products. It could be any three of the following: soap, lotion, bath salt, lip balm or perfume (depending on age). They get to mix up, color and scent their products from a variety of great choices.

The best part is we supply all the equipment, ingredients, packaging and more. The only thing that you need to supply is your home, eager kids, a kitchen table and a microwave (we will bring one if you don't have one, for an additional cost). Afterward we look after the clean up, and the kids get to take home a bag of goodies that they made themselves.

Book a party today. (Saint John NB and area only)


Just the Fax Ma'am

Just a quick thank you to MP Rodney Weston's office for allowing me the use of their fax machine this morning. The young lady at the desk was very helpful. Thank you very much, once again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Support Local... Most of the Time

I had to send a local fax last week and so I went to a local shop that offers those services. It was a 10 page document which I had printed on my laser printer so they were perfect originals. I arrived at the unnamed shop at 4:40pm and began scanning my document through. By 5:05pm, it was only on page of the send transmission. I couldn't believe how long it was taking and had I known beforehand, I would have gone elsewhere.

Finally at 5:25pm, my local, 10 page fax transmission was complete; a full 45 minutes after I had started. I was now late for another engagement. Mrs SudsMuffin had to leave without me to go pick up MiniMuffin from her day camp and then come all the way back into town to pick me up. What an inconvenience, to say the least. Then even with the painfully slow sending fax, this business charged me $1 per page (yes, for a local fax). I couldn't believe it. It's not the cost that I had an issue with so much as the fact that their fax machine was so slow that it caused me a fair bit of inconvenience. I would have been embarrassed to charge my customer for that fax, had I been that local business.

The next day, I met with the person I had sent the fax to. I couldn't believe what I saw. She had received 10 pages of a streaky mess. Every pages had streaks all the way down and across the entire page. When I asked her about it, she told me that the issue wasn't even on her end since she has "fax to email" from the local phone provider and that my streaky document is how she received it as the pdf in her email, before even printing it.

Later that same day, I went back to the business where I had sent my fax from, with a copy of my original and a copy of the received transmission. I went in very friendly (if you know me, you'll know that I'm pretty calm and low-key with things like this) and as soon as I started to show the business owner what their fax sent to my recipient, he got all defensive, with a fists on hips stance. He started sputtering that it was the phone line that sent it that way, that he has no control over the quality of the transmission, and that there was nothing he could do about it.

I didn't even get to the part where my recipient receives faxes electronically day in and day out. I just left. Mrs SudsMuffin is not pleased with that business at all. She has given them hundreds of dollars in business in the past year (they sell items there that we use), and even though they aren't the least expensive option, we have given them our business because we support local over big box stores. Mrs SudsMuffin has a list of things that she wanted to get from this business, but no more. I can't believe that a small business would risk so much in this economy over an $11 fax. Crazy isn't it?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our Fall Lineup

The summer will soon be drawing to a close and we can look toward what is my favorite time of the year. Autumn, the fall, the time that the most amazing colors start to take the place of our expansive green canopy. Then there are the scents, all of which bring out the most delicious memories. Apples, bright and crisp in color and taste, made into tarts, muffins and delectable, wondrous, awesome pies. Then there is my MOST favorite fall fruit of all, the amazing, versatile, divine, delightful, big, beautiful orange pumpkin. I can't wait for the scent of cooking pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin preserves and more. The mix of spices send me into a virtual euphoria of excitement. These are the kind of scents that you can expect from our new fall line, available soon. Currently on our curing shelf are our Frosted Spiced Pumpkin Souffle soap muffins, as seen in the attached photo.

What are your favorite fall scents and memories? Let us know by leaving a comment. We would love to hear about them.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A wonderful day

The Muffin clan had a great day yesterday. At the store, we had more people in from the cruise ship than we have ever had! They all really enjoyed our store and all took home a menu to remind them of their visit. We also had the chance to enjoy some of the most delectable sweets in the city from "On The Sweet Side" in the Saint John City Market (Thanks Yolanda and Samantha).

For lunch, we enjoyed the awesome french fries from Urban Deli and fruit smoothies from Sagrati's in the City Market. Later, MiniMuffin and I went out and about, handing out our SudsMuffin menus and party flyers, we found some that there was a free concert going on in King's Square. I listened to them for a while and MiniMuffin decided that she wanted to splash around in the fountain under the bandstand. It was so great to just be there in that atmosphere, with great music, and all the people just enjoying the warm sunny day in the Square.

Just as we were about to close up the shop, some nice folks from the cruise ship came in to see what we were all about. We ended up chatting with them quite a bit. They were from New York and just loved our store. Before they went on their way, they shared the name of a shop that they love in Virginia, called On A Whim Antiques. They are apparently situated in a big barn and have painted the silo pink with black polka dots. I don't know about you, but I think they would get along with the SudsMuffin just fine. Check out their blog and you'll see some of the great treasures they have.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Your SudsMuffin Spa Party Today

Be the first to book a SudsMuffin Spa Party this month and receive an extra bonus of a basket of SudsMuffin Stuff worth over $40!

Read on:

Are you and your gal pals looking for something different to do? When was the last time you were pampered? Just book a SudsMuffin Spa Party and we'll treat you and your guests to a fun night of Spa treats right in your own home.

As the host or hostess, you receive:
  • A SudsMuffin T-shirt (pink or black) in adult sizes sm to xl
  • Credits towards purchase based on show sales
  • A chance to sample our most popular products
  • Hand and foot massages for anyone willing
  • Fantastic Hostess gift
  • And maybe more little surprises!
Reserve your date now at sudsmuffin@rogers.com

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A SudsMuffin Soap Story

Our soap starts simply; a carefully measured amount of pure water and sodium hydroxide (the magic ingredient that transforms ordinary elements into soap). To this mixture we add pure raw silk and a natural moisturizing agent. In a separate gleaming stainless steel pot, we melt solid oils, removing then from the heat when the last of the oils have slowly disappeared like melting ice. Now we add specially selected liquid oils.

We blend our very own original recipe of oils together, each one chosen for their unique properties that allow our soap to be so long lasting and very wonderfully moisturizing.

Now comes the tricky part of blending. It is this action where the transformation begins. The combined oils and lye water mixture have to be stirred until just the right consistency. This is called bringing the soap to trace. It cannot be too hot or too cool as this can cause unwanted reactions in the process. Once the proper trace has been reached, we add one of our amazing scents that we take great care and time to choose. There are many fragrances that have not measured up to our standards. Hundreds of samples have not agreed with our finicky noses. After all, you have to love it to sell it. We source from some of the best fragrance providers in the business. Our essential oils are from all over the world and are chosen for both their purity and aroma.

On with the soap magic. Sometimes it requires an extra step or two to bring about our wonderful creations. We may separate a portion of the traced soap from the main batch in order to add extras to it, such as any number of our glorious, vibrant colors, clays, oxides or botanicals. This bit of withheld soap is then mixed back in to make an eye catching swirl. It is somewhat like pouring a marble cake. Or the withheld soap can be layered in to give the illusion of frosting or to be one of the layers of a spectacular multi-layered soap cake, complete with soapy sprinkles, icing or "chocolate" curls.

Next it's time for the mold. Each of our handmade wooden treasures was created just for us by skilled local craftsmen to our exact specifications. Each mold is painstakingly hand lined for every pour. We reuse our mold liners as many times as possible to minimize waste and help do our green part.

The freshly mixed soap, now at just the right thickness and temperature, is ever so carefully and gently poured into waiting prepared molds. We carefully pick up the mold and set it gently into a low warmed oven to start the gelling phase. It is this gelling that completes the chemical process of turning all of the wonderful ingredients into SudsMuffin soap. The heat has to be just right and the process very carefully watched. The gelling process is something that is not always predictable so we take great care to watch it like a soufflé through the oven door to ensure nothing is amiss. Once the gelling starts, the change happens very quickly and within minutes the new batch of soap is ready to pull from the oven and set aside to cool so it can be cut the next day.

After cutting the soap with our special cutter, the new bars or cakes or muffins are then set on a curing rack for as long as four weeks until they are ready to be served up in your home for you to enjoy every last soapy crumb.

SudsMuffin Menus

Introducing the brand new SudsMuffin menu. These were the brainchild of my brilliant Mrs SudsMuffin and I just love them. The main purpose of these was to provide our customers a quick reference guide to what we have in the shop, but something very neat has happened. Our customers love them so much that they want to take them home. We had not planned on that but are happy to hand them over. These simple little whimsical menus are proving to be quite the marketing tool. I found the response overwhelmingly positive on our customers' part. I am now handing these out pretty much wherever I go. Keep an eye out for me and ask for yours.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy New Brunswick Day!


Just a quick note to say thank you to all of the great folks who came into the shop while we were open today. If anyone missed us, come by the shop any day this week between 10am and 5pm. I will be glad to help you with what you need.

A review - Urban Deli

Wow! What a lunch! Anyone who knows me knows I love food. I love all kinds of food. I thrive on the not only the tastes, but the textures, aromas, the sound of food cooking, from boiling water to the sizzle of a beautiful cut of salmon under the broiler. I love food. That being established, I want to tell you about a place that is new to the uptown Saint John area. This wonderful spot is called the Urban Deli and it is located on King St, just down the hill from the Royal Bank.

I was in love the moment I walked through the front door. The ambiance and decor were just to my liking. The staff was extremely friendly, and the best part was you could see the chefs in action. The menu, while not complicated, is original and fresh, boasting marvelous soups, salads and bistro sandwiches that are to die for.

I had the most delicious grilled cheese ever. We are not talking run of the mill here people, I mean there were three totally divine cheeses in this huge sandwich (aged white cheddar, swiss and fontina), grilled just right and served with the best french fries ever. Mrs SudsMuffin had an amazing bowl of fresh macaroni in a double cheese sauce (aged cheddar and swiss). I was completely satisfied and will definitely be making a return trip to this most amazing establishment.











Thank you Urban Deli for a truly great food experience. You get 5 bubbles from the SudsMuffin.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The What and Why of Bath Salts

Salt, Zout, Sel, Sale, Sal, Saill or Salainnich... however you want to say it, this natural mineral found all over the world in a variety of forms has been used for centuries for relaxation and healing. There are many uses for salt, including but not limited to the following: bath salts, deodorant and the most widely know use as a flavor enhancer.

Today I am only going to be speaking on bath salts. I use sea salt and a salt called Magnesium Sulfate, commonly known as epsom salt. The benefits of using bath salts are as follows:
  • Softens hard water
  • Helps improve circulation
  • Reduces tenderness to bruised skin and muscles
  • Aids in healing dry skin (making it more supple and soft)
  • Helps with irritations like insect bites, minor rashes or foot calluses
  • Has been noted to reduce bacteria count on the body, giving the immune system a helping hand
Please note: Persons who are pregnant or have high blood pressure should always consult with their medical practitioner before using bath salts. Also when using bath salts, make sure your water is not too hot. Very hot baths over long periods will dry out your skin and can lead to dehydration.

Bath salts made with essential oils may have the added value of aromatherapy. If you have a specific need, contact a certified aromatherapist or natural practitioner and they should be able to recommend the most appropriate oils for you. A few commonly used essential oils in bath salts are peppermint for a refreshing cooling bath, lavender for a relaxing bath, and eucalyptus to ease breathing and congestion.

Always follow safe usage and dilution practices when dealing with essential oils, and check with your physician prior to using them if you are pregnant or have any persistent medical condition.