Soap making secrets: Why buy handmade soap?

Why buy handmade soap?Sometimes I’m asked, “Why should I buy handmade soap, the soap at the grocery store is cheaper?” There’s a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer involves me handing you a bar of soap and challenging you to give it a try. If your skin doesn’t feel measurably different after the bar is gone, by all means, continue to use your store-bought soap. I’ve been able to get many people hooked on handmade soap this way.

However, since you aren’t standing in front of me right now, here are my top three reasons for why you should buy handmade soap.

The soap you by in the store usually isn’t soap

There are thousands and thousands of articles on the internet that explain the difference between handmade soap and commercially made soap. In a nutshell, the soap you buy at the grocery store is chock full of synthetic chemicals and additives that help the soap companies produce the bar as cheaply as possible. None of these ingredients do much for your skin and some are known irritants.

Handmade soap, like the kind that Emmet Street Creations sells, contains a handful of natural ingredients that benefit your skin. Compare our label to your store-bought label and you’ll see the difference. If you’d like to read more on this topic, check out this article about the benefits of using handmade soap from Natural News.

When you buy handmade, you support small businesses and artisans

Every handmade soap maker that you meet is also an artist. From formulating the recipe to deciding on scents and colors, to slicing and curing the batch, we put hours of hard work into every product we make.

We are small business owners and many of us try to make a living off the products we make. When you buy a bar of soap from a vendor at a craft show, you pump money into the local economy. When you buy online at Etsy or another site, you are supporting an entrepreneur.

When you buy handmade, you encourage that maker to keep making and growing and honing their skills.

Because you’re worth it

Our goal at Emmet Street is, and always will be, to nourish your skin and to make your morning shower an event to look forward to, not just a chore to do before work. For a few minutes every morning, we want you to take your mind off the mundane tasks of your day and to reflect on the beauty of the world that is all around you. We believe a bar of soap that smells amazing and is beautiful to look at can help you do just that.

Is your interest piqued? Head on over to the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store and give one of our handmade creations a try!

Monday Musings: Read Across America Day

 Read Across America DayPart of my personal library with some really old books I inherited from my father.

Today on Emmet Street, we’re celebrating National Read Across America Day. This day was started back in 1997 by the National Education Association (NEA) to encourage children to read. It coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss, one of my favorite authors.

To celebrate, I’m turning off the television, curling up under a warm blanket and immersing myself in the final book of the Divergent trilogy,  Allegiant. I can’t wait to find out how it ends! No spoilers!

Looking for your next read? We wax poetic about the magic of books quite often on Emmet Street. Check out some of our past posts for ideas:

Have you seen our Home Library Lust board on Pinterest? (Why not jump on over and follow us?) Here are some of our recent book-related pins:

  • Books in the ceiling – Just getting a book down from this library would be a great adventure!
  • Little Free Library – Give a book, take a book, spread the joy.
  • TV library – Looking to recycle your old boxy television? There are some great ideas here, including a TV library!

Creamy mushroom soup (vegan, gluten free)

Creamy vegan mushroom soup

Ah, winter. The best time of year to whip up a batch of soup. It’s also a great time to experiment with new ingredients (like my recent foray into miso), since laboring over a hot stove is particularly appealing when outdoor temperatures dip into the sub-zero range.

This particular recipe was inspired by a television cooking show that featured a cream-free cauliflower soup. I was intrigued by the concept, but the original recipe seemed a bit bland and called for an ingredient I don’t like to work with: leeks.

I replaced the leeks with sweet onions and decided to make a heartier version by adding mushrooms. Next, I turned to my fridge and cupboard and added seasonings absent from the inspiration recipe to kick up the flavor quotient. I’m so glad I did.

Pair this soup with a slice of rustic, whole-grain bread drizzled in olive oil and you have a perfect winter meal! Low in fat, high in flavor, this soup is a super healthy meal, too. Did you know one cup of cauliflower contains three grams of protein, three grams of fiber and 85% or your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C? (Don’t believe me? Check it out in the U.S.D.A. nutrition calculator.)

What are some of your favorite winter meals?

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Makes about eight, one-cup servings 

2 c. sweet onion (about one medium)

3 c. water + 1/2 c.

1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped (about 8 c.)

1 T. yellow miso paste (optional, but highly recommended)

12 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced (about 3 1/2 c.)

1/8 t. dried rosemary

1/8 t. dried thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, cook onions in 1/2 c. water over medium heat until soft (add more water if needed to avoid burning). Add remaining water and cauliflower and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. While cauliflower is cooking, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, rosemary and thyme to the skillet until mushrooms are cooked. Set aside.
  3. Return to cauliflower and test doneness. Move on to the next step if a fork or knife passes through it easily.
  4. Add miso to the pot and puree using an immersion blender (you can use a regular blender, you’ll just have to do this step in smaller batches if you do).
  5. Add mushrooms to the pot and stir gently.
  6. Add salt and pepper, if desired.

Dry skin? Emmet Street Creations has the remedy

Got dry skin? Here's a cure.Has the brutal winter weather left your skin feeling dry, rough and in need of nourishment? Did you know that olive oil contains nourishing vitamins A and E (vitamins that are as good for your skin on the outside as they are for your body on the inside)?

It’s true! For millenia, folks have used olive oil as a skin moisturizer as well as a tasty cooking ingredient.

At Emmet Street Creations, we’ve harnessed the moisturizing power of olive oil in several of our handcrafted soap products. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Unscented Banana – Made with real bananas, this bar is packed full of antioxidants to leave your skin glowing.
  • Cocoa Butter – This soap is full of all natural ingredients–including cocoa powder! You’ll smell as good as your skin feels.
  • Desert Breeze – Don’t let the name of this soap fool you! Loaded with all-natural, moisturizing oils (rice bran, palm, coconut and castor, in addition to olive) this soap will hydrate your skin in no time. You’ll soar toward the heavens after you catch a whiff of the earthy fragrance blend of citrus, rose and sandalwood.

Want to see more of our products that contain olive oil? It’s easy! Visit the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store, type olive oil in the “Search in this shop” field, and click Search. You’ll be taken to a listing of all our handcrafted soap products containing olive oil. The hardest part is choosing your favorite!

While you’re there, don’t forget we’re still having our winter sale in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store, too. You can save 15% when you spend $15 or more now through 2/28 (midnight ET). Simply load up your cart with your favorites and enter code LOVE15 at checkout.

Have friends who battle dry skin (and like saving money)? It’s easy to share our skin-saving products with them! 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.)


The Loofah Soap Experiment: The Final Update (and finished product!)

Rosemary herb loofah soapNearly a year ago, I embarked on a gardening and soaping adventure that I called, “The Loofah Soap Experiment.” My plan was to grow a loofah plant from seed, nurture it throughout the summer and harvest tons of loofah to use in soapy projects.

By the end of September, I had ten large loofah on the vine. I just had to wait for them to dry out so I could harvest them. I checked them every day and by the end of October, I was able to harvest two. Then winter arrived in early November and rest froze on the vine. Such is the nature of gardening in Ohio.

With my two survivors, I decided to make rustic gardener soaps scented with rosemary essential oil that would scrub away the most stubborn dirt while leaving hands feeling smooth and soft.

To achieve the rustic look, I used recycled containers. For the first soap, I used a half and half container and left the batch uncolored.

Rosemary herb gardener's soapFor the second batch, I used a Pringles can and colored the batch a nice shade of green. To prep the can so it wouldn’t leak, I stretched several layers of plastic wrap over the opening of the can, replaced the plastic lid, and sealed the lid with tape. Then I flipped the can over and cut the bottom off to make a new opening. I kept the loofah a little bit longer than the can thinking I could use it as a handle to help pull the soap out of the can.

Making loofah soapI quickly learned that trying to push or pull the soap out of the can was difficult. Luckily, Pringles cans are made of cardboard and I was able to peel it away from the soap instead. The freezer paper I used as a liner protected the soap from tearing when I pulled the cardboard away.

Unmolding loofah soapTo slice both soaps, I used a serrated knife and cut with a back and forth sawing motion instead of cutting straight through to minimize drag marks.

I love the rustic look of both soaps but, even more, I love that they smell like a walk in an herb garden on a warm summer day. Rosemary is considered to have antimicrobial properties so these are perfect to use after a day of digging in the dirt. Both will be available in the coming weeks in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store.

Cooking curiosity: What is miso?

What is misoSince I’ve been having some kitchen adventures lately (my town under a blanket of snow and ice = perfect time to stay in and experiment in the kitchen), I decided to pick up a tub of yellow miso paste to play around with.

I was inspired because a local chef told me miso broth makes a nice substitute for chicken broth in vegan recipes. Over the years, I’d heard that it was a “healthy” ingredient to incorporate into recipes, but I couldn’t remember why. I engaged my Google-fu to find out.

What is miso?

Miso is a paste used as a seasoning in Japanese cuisine. It is made by combining soybeans (though other seeds and grains can be used to produce different flavors) with salt and the same fungus used to make other Japanese products you may already be familiar with: sake and soy sauce. Then, the ingredients are left alone so they can get to know each other better. The fermentation process of miso takes between 18 months and three years, depending on what color and flavor is desired. (Find out more about the different colors and flavors of miso in this Food52 blog post.)

Why is miso good for me?

But there are some downsides to consider before adding miso to your diet:

Where can I get it?

I remember not too long ago, you’d have to make trek to an Asian grocery store to get your hands on some. I have fond memories of going to Asia Plaza in Cleveland’s Chinatown (if you have the chance, check it out… dim sum at Li Wah is a lot of fun) with one of my gal pals who kept it stocked to keep tummy troubles under control. However, miso has hit the mainstream. I’ve found it on the shelves of several local grocery stores. If your preferred grocer doesn’t carry it, ask. They may be able to order it for you through one of their vendors. If not, at least they’ll know there’s interest in it and might stock it in the future.

What’s my review?

The results of my early experiments with yellow miso have been positive. I would venture to say this could become a refrigerator staple in my house. But, one warning: a little goes a long way. The flavor is intense–kind of salty and, well, ferment-y–so I don’t recommend spreading it on a sandwich (it would add a little too much tangy zip).

Have you tried miso? What are your favorite ways to use it? I’m looking for some inspiration to use mine up. Let me know in the comments!