It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (once I watch these three TV shows)

Every year there is a selection of Christmas television shows that I have to watch before it really feels like Christmas. Rankin/Bass‘ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the genius of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and, of course, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Here’s clip that sums up the struggle we’re still dealing with:

What about you? What are some Christmas traditions that you have to take part in before you feel Christmas-y?

What’s cookin’? Our favorite recipes from the 2014 ESC food archives

What's cookin'? Our favorite ESC recipes this year

Here on Emmet Street, we like to eat. Occasionally, we like to cook and share recipes with you. In case you missed them the first time around, here are a few of our favorites to make you hungry for more in 2015!

Think these recipes look delicious? Wouldn’t they taste even better if you could get someone to make them for you? Why share this post with your personal chef? It’s easier than ordering takeout! Simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).

Last minute Christmas shopping? We can help.

Still looking for the perfect gift? We can help.Still looking for the perfect gift for a teacher, tea lover or spa aficionado? Maybe you just need a few little things to fill the stockings you’ll hang by the chimney with care?

It’s not too late for Emmet Street Creations to help you out! As long as you order by December 19, you will be sure to have the perfect handcrafted gift for someone special.

We have some new seasonal offerings that will conjure up happy holiday memories with just one sniff: Cranberry Fig and Peppermint! Clever Christine has been busy experimenting in her soap laboratory adding chocolate scented Cocoa Butter soap and sweet and spicy Chipotle Caramel soap to our handcrafted soap lineup.

Whatever you choose, you can be sure it will smell (and look) great. Since our soaps are loaded with all-natural moisturizers such as olive, rice bran, coconut and avocado oils, you can be assured the recipient of your gift will have their skin feeling great, too.

You can’t go wrong with any of the scents we offer in our Etsy store; just ask our customers! But, if you’re not sure what to pick… we take Etsy gift cards, too!

Know someone who loves giving handcrafted gifts? Why not let them know we can help them with their last-minute shopping needs? It’s easy! Simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).

During the holiday hustle and bustle, pause to remember what’s most important

Christmas lights at nightImage credit: Christmas Lights at Night by Thomas Quine on Flickr. CC by 2.0.

If your schedule hasn’t gotten hectic yet, it’s probably about to now that the holiday season is in full swing. Before you get too frazzled, take some time to review your “to do” list. Is everything on it something that is necessary, or can you pare it back a little so you can spend time with friends and family?

Making time to have dinner with friends or stroll around with the family looking at Christmas lights is more important than sending a holiday card to John in Accounting. For me, those are the things that make the season memorable. Not cards, not material goods.

Brene Brown recently posted an experience she had placing higher priority on “the list” than making time for some holiday traditions she had with her children. Take a look at what she wrote on her blog. It reminded me of last year, when I decided I just had too much going on to send Christmas cards. While I missed making that sort of contact with friends, it definitely needed to be done and it made for a much more relaxing holiday.

Here’s a happy, healthy and low-stress holiday season!

Christine’s big (soap) adventure: Episode 4

Editor’s note: To celebrate Emmet Street Creations’ first anniversary, we’re reposting the series Christine wrote detailing her journey to bring Emmet Street Creations to life. Enjoy!

I enjoyed the time I was investing in my handcrafted soap making sessions. Soon, I wanted to add some challenge to my repertoire. I knew the next step I was interested in taking—making cold process soaps—but I was afraid of taking that step.

I had to reach deep into the reasons why I was attracted to cold process soap making. I liked the idea of being able to control the ingredients. I wanted what I made to be as eco-friendly and skin friendly as it could possibly be.

So, I studied the techniques and read everything I could. I watched countless YouTube tutorials. In spite of all my research, the idea of working with lye still scared me.

As I learned about cold process soap making, I stumbled upon this website that made up my mind to face my fear head on.

In the article, the author addressed the fear of using lye, liking it to the fear one goes through when learning to drive a car. Cars are dangerous and, when used the wrong way, can be deadly. But, the author pointed out, with practice one gets over the fear and, eventually, barely thinks about the danger of speeding down a highway with other cars merely feet away. We’ve got places to go, after all.

I refused to let fear stop me.

Working with lye is dangerous. When used the wrong way, it can be deadly; but, with knowledge, safety precautions and practice, lye can be a useful tool. I purchased a cold process soap making kit and excitedly waited for its arrival.

Me in my protective gear; waiting excitedly.

My first batch of cold process soap was unscented and uncolored. It came out perfect and so did I—I didn’t burn myself with lye! My confidence bloomed. After six weeks of cure time, I handed out samples to friends and coworkers.

I received rave reviews:

“I’ve never felt so clean,” they said.

“I haven’t needed moisturizer, my skin is so soft,” they gushed.

“You should sell this!” they advised.

A few dozen batches later, here I am ready to try my hand at selling the mounds of soap I’ve made. I know it won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing is. I love making soap and sharing my creations with others.

Welcome to Emmet Street, won’t you come sit a spell?

Christine’s big (soap) adventure: Episode 3

Editor’s note: To celebrate Emmet Street Creations’ first anniversary, we’re reposting the series Christine wrote detailing her journey to bring Emmet Street Creations to life. Enjoy!

After the success of my Christmas gift giving, I was inspired to learn more about soap making and building upon the skills I had learned. For two years, I learned everything I could about making melt and pour soap. I tried different techniques and molds, colors and scents.

I searched for pictures of soap online like some people search for porn. In those searches, I ran across pictures of beautiful soaps made using the cold process method of soap making. I was intrigued, but scared. Cold process soaps are made using lye. Lye dissolves skin. Lye blinds people. Make one mistake with lye and it could be your last. So I admired those soaps and soap makers, but only from a distance.

A new chapter begins

Books HD

Image credit: Books HD by Abhi Sharma, on Flickr. CC by 2.0. 

In December of 2011, my mother’s health declined further and in June of 2012, she passed away. During those months, I didn’t think about or make soap. There were more important things going on.

For several months after my mother’s death, I struggled to discover who I was. My identity for the last seven years had been “My Mother’s Caregiver.” I had adjusted my work schedule to have Friday off for “Mom Day.” Now that I didn’t have to keep Friday free for Mom’s appointments or errand running, I didn’t know what to do with myself during my free time.

I didn’t know what to do with the space in my brain that was no longer taken up with worry about her. But, I knew that I didn’t want to fill that space with worries about something else, so I turned back to soap. I figured it would be good to have a hobby. I started making melt and pour soaps again but quickly became bored with the process and wanted to challenge myself.

Christine’s big (soap) adventure: Episode 2

Editor’s note: To celebrate Emmet Street Creations’ first anniversary, we’re reposting the series Christine wrote detailing her journey to bring Emmet Street Creations to life. Enjoy!

The day I set aside to work on my first soaps felt like Christmas. I had my new supplies lined up on the kitchen with the soap base wrapped up tight—the only thing it was missing was a big, red bow on top. I took that hunk of soap, unwrapped it and cut it into pieces to melt down.

Then something magical happened.

Monarch Butterfly

Image credit: Monarch Butterfly, El Rosario Sanctuary, by Luna sin estrellas, on Flickr CC by 2.0.

For five hours, I was transported to a different universe. No, The Doctor did not come to take me away in the Tardis—I wasn’t quite that lucky.  I was immersed in watching the soap melt, stirring in the colorant and scent, and pouring the soap into different molds. I didn’t think about my worries once. Not once. I was happy. I was content. I was relaxed and enjoying myself. When I finally emerged from my kitchen, I was hooked. I needed to feel that feeling again and I needed to feel it soon. The next day, I went back to the craft store, bought more supplies and started all over again.

Plotting the ruse, an idea takes hold

 As I was wrapping the soaps I made, I thought it would be fun to label them as if they were soaps I had bought in a store. I wanted to fool everyone for a while, then pop the surprise that those were soaps that I had made.

I had to think of a fake company name for my homemade soaps. It didn’t take me long, really. After on a few minutes, Emmet Street popped into my head. Emmet Street is the street I grew up on in a tiny, little town in north central Ohio. I haven’t lived there in 20 years but when I think of home, I think of the house on Emmet Street—not the house I currently occupy.

Lively and lovely...

Not my childhood home, but a reasonable facsimile. (Image credit: Lively and lovely… by Wonderlane, on Flickr. CC by 2.0.)

Emmet Street was an idyllic place to grow up. In the summer, the grown-ups would gather on our front porch and shoot the breeze as the kids ran around the yard trapping fireflies in jars. I felt relaxed and happy and loved on Emmet Street. I didn’t have a care in the world most days. I had the same carefree feeling as I was making those soaps. I knew I wanted to honor my street by using it in my company name.

I toyed with some ideas: Emmet Street Soaps? Nah, that would restrict me to soap and nothing else. What if I wanted to branch out? Emmet Street Sundries? Emmet Street Things ‘n’ Stuff? Emmet Street Creations? Yes! That was what I was looking for. I printed up fancy labels and, come Christmas, gleefully handed out all of my presents.

They were a hit. Everyone was so excited to receive the colorful little gems and impressed to learn that I had spent the time to make them.