Lora's Beauty Website


For handcrafted soap visit the online store or the Etsy Store!

Lora's artisan soaps, an affordable luxury.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Perfecting Homemade Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza? I certainly do. In fact, I've written 8 times on my blog about pizza! Besides soap, that's got to be the next hottest topic.

So how is this post, the 9th one, going to be different than all the others? The simple answer is I've had 6 years to improve on my technique and I'm pretty sure I'm close to perfection.

I'm still making my own pizza dough then I freeze it as I described in this post. The recipe I use for the dough can be found here and I usually double it and substitute a cup of whole wheat flour in place of a cup of white flour. This gives me 6 balls of dough for 6 pizzas to feed two people.

When I want pizza, I take a ball of dough out of the freezer in the morning and let it sit on the counter to thaw and rise. To shape the dough, never roll it with a rolling pin because that pushes all the gas out of the dough which can result in a flat, tough dough. Instead, hand stretch it as described here.

Now here's the best and new part...the toppings! This combination of toppings you won't find at your favorite pizza parlor but they create a sweet, savory pizza that combined with the nutty dough (from the whole wheat) will surprise your taste buds.


Start with dusting the top of your stretched dough with some red peppers and Italian seasoning. 

Then add grated Drunken Goat Cheese, the one with the purple rind. It's purple because it's been developed in a red wine bath which gives a fruity flavor to the cheese. 

Next thinly slice a ripe bartlett pear and layer on the cheese leaving no empty spaces. I like the texture of the bartlett once baked. Finally, slice a sweet onion and layer it on the pear. 

The next topping is optional, if you can call bacon optional.... The pizza is great without it but adding a few slices of cooked and cut bacon takes it to the next level, a level I never would have thought of until I smelled bacon the other morning when out for a walk.


Bake the pizza at 425 degrees on a stone on the top rack of your oven. Trust me, don't google this because everywhere tells you to bake it on the bottom rack (except this article). Baking it on the top, especially if it's thin crust, allows for the cheese and toppings to get all bubbly and done without burning the crust. My pizza is usually done in about 22-24 minutes. 

Another tip, never put a cold pizza stone into a hot oven. Heat the stone up while the oven is pre-heating and transfer your pizza to the stone using a pizza peel. I usually just leave my stone in the oven on the top rack all the time. I only use the top rack for pizzas and the stone helps evenly heat the oven when I'm cooking other things.


If you can wait, I never can, it's best to let the pizza sit for at least 5 minutes after removing it from the oven and before cutting it.

Enjoy and let me know in the comments if you try this recipe and what you think! I'd also love to hear your favorite pizza toppings, particularly if they're unusual!



Thursday, March 25, 2021

The 3 B's; Buried, Burned, or Borne Out to Sea

One of the things I take pride in, is providing high quality products that provide an alternative to everyday items purchased in plastic containers.

For example, to break free of plastic dish washing bottles, Lora's Beauty offers Solid Dish Washing Bars.


Plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles can be eliminated with Solid Shampoo and Conditioner Bars.


Solid Shaving Pucks eliminate the need for shaving bottles purchased at the store.


And of course, handcrafted bar soap has always been the best way to clean and moisturize your skin without plastic bottles.

As many people know, plastic pollution is a global problem, however the United States uses more than their fair share. That's why I was so interested to see this email from my senator in my inbox this morning:



Image 

Dear Deann,

Plastic pollution is more than seeing an ugly mountain of single-use plastics when you go to the beach. Plastics are poisoning our bodies through the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. And it’s much worse than most people imagine, because each of us, on average, is ingesting a credit-card size amount of microplastics every week.

One reason why that’s so surprising is that many of us were taught the three R’s  -- reduce, reuse, and recycle -- and figured that as long as we got our plastic items into those blue bins, we could keep our plastic use in check and protect our planet from plastic pollution. But the reality is much more like the three B’s -- buried, burned, or borne out to sea, and the impacts on the health of our communities, particularly among Black, Brown, and low-income Americans, are serious.

That’s why I’m introducing the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, the most comprehensive plan in Congress to address to protect our health and planet from dangerous plastic pollution. And tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at a virtual rally for the legislation -- and you can tune in here at 12:30pm PT on Thursday

This bill lays out a practical, commonsense strategy that’s made up of components that have already been successful in many cities and states -- including Oregon -- across America and around the world.  These policies will reduce plastic production, increase recycling, and protect frontline and fenceline communities from the burden of toxic emissions from plastic waste. 

No parent -- regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or how much money they have -- should have to worry about whether their child is ingesting dangerous chemicals or microplastics. Let’s work together to turn that vision into a reality.

All my best,
Jeff


Hopefully, this bill will become a reality, until then seeking out alternatives to plastic is a small way everyone can contribute. As an encouragement Lora's Beauty is offering 10% all items in the Etsy shop! Use the coupon code 10OFF at checkout and thank you for doing your part!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Let's Talk About Preservatives

***Update March 26, 2021.
I'm pleased to announce that after several weeks of testing, I have found a paraben-free preservative that keeps the Conditioner Bar safe for use. I am now using glycine-benzoic acid. In addition, this full spectrum preservative contains no components considered to be either persistent, bioaccumulative or toxic to the environment. 
***end Update

My first dive into skincare products was over a decade ago, I made lotion for myself following a very simple recipe I found on the internet. This recipe called for vitamin E oil for use as a preservative. After a few days of using the lotion, I noticed it starting to turn black in spots; mold and bacteria were growing in it. I quickly discovered that natural preservatives weren't going to cut it in products containing water.

In my online stores, I sell only one product that contains a preservative, the Moisturizing Cocoa Butter Conditioner Bar. The rest of my product line are cold process soaps which contain a high enough ph to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
The Conditioner Bar I make does not contain water, however since it's used in the shower and will get wet, I add a very small amount of Phenonip preservative (less than 1%.). The full ingredients for Phenonip are 
Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben. I

There is much debate regarding parabens in skin and hair card products and I encourage you to do your own research, but regardless of where you land on the debate, the quantity at which they are used in my Conditioner Bar is so small that I feel comfortable in using them. What I don't feel comfortable about, and what would be more dangerous, is to sell a product to the public that could grow a microbe in it and possibly harm someone. My own opinion on them is I don't, nor would I encourage anyone to use multiple products that contain them everyday in large quantities. I also question new alternatives to parabens that have been proven to be more dangerous or at best, less well known.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Happenings at Lora's Beauty

I'm a little late with this but Happy New Year! It really feels like a fresh start this year and to celebrate I've got some new offerings I'd like to share.


First up I've added a new scent to the very popular Solid Dish Soap, cedarwood anise and wow this is a powerful combination! The scent invokes the outdoors and it joins the other essential oil scent combinations of lemongrass, rosemary mint, cinnamon orange, and lavender basil.


Also new is the Botanical Basil & Orange Silk Bar. A tiny addition of tussah silk to this bar provides for a luxurious, silky bar with creamy lather. I love the addition of silk to soap so much that I will be adding it to most my other offerings. Currently the Valentine's heart shaped soap and the Bicycle Heart bar contain tussah silk.


I'm excited to soon offer more ceramic dishes from DunneR Ceramics in Portland, Oregon. In addition to the soap dishes designed for the Solid Dish Soap, I will be offering dishes for my Shave Bar. 


These dishes have the adorable patterned bottoms that help keep the soap in place as well as silicone pads at the bottom to keep the dish from slipping on the counter top. These are a little deeper than the regular soap dishes as they're meant to be used with a shaving brush to work up a thick lather. 


Speaking of shaving brushes, I will also offer an inexpensive starter brush so people can try the whole combination out before committing to a more expensive brush. You can spend a lot of money on a shaving brush and the more expensive ones are made from badger hair. Look for both the dishes and the brushes in my Etsy store around the middle of February.

If you haven't had a chance to try my new Himalayan Salt Bar, you'll want to do so! I've refined the bar a little by grinding up the salt even finer and adding more. The addition of salt to soap makes for a very hard bar that's wonderful for detoxifying skin. I'm making this bar in a rounded bottom mold, the result makes for a unique looking bar that's great for skin! The essential oils of lavender and anise are a beautiful scent combination for this soap.

When you have time, take a moment to check out these new offerings at my Etsy site or my website! Have a wonderful 2021!


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Valentine's Open Air Market!

Hey all you Portland peeps, are you tired of sitting in your house waiting out the pandemic with no place to go? Well, I'm about to share the best socially distanced, local shopping opportunity in a long time! 


Stroll the beautiful outdoor grounds of Pomarius Nursery in NW Portland and choose from one of a kind Valentine's gifts for your special person! In addition to the boutique nursery goods, there will be art, antiques, wine, jewelry, candles, textiles, and of course artisan soap by Lora's Beauty.

The open air market will be February 13 from 10-4. You'll want to reserve your spot online at Pomarious Nursery and space is limited. A reservation and $5 donation to the Oregon Humane Society, gets you 1 hour of shopping time with 29 other people. There will be fire pits to keep you warm as you stroll the beautiful nursery searching for that special gift.

Come on, get out of the house, bring your mask and enjoy some winter magic time outside!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Meet The Maker and The Workspace

Wow! It's taken me 11 years to write this post. Actually, to WRITE it only took a few hours, to get the courage to START writing it took 11 years! The main reason for that is I work in technology (when I'm not making soap) and I know full well that every time I click 'Publish', 'Post', or 'Submit' it's permanent. Every fleeting opinion, feeling, or comment will be forever part of my permanent record when that button is clicked. Therefore, I've tried to keep what I post here a little less personal, plus I'm probably not that interesting, truth be told.

It wasn't until I started reading other people's meet the maker posts, mainly on Instagram, that I changed my mind. I found those posts to be refreshing, genuine, fun, and they gave me the courage to attempt one myself.

So meet the maker of Lora's Beauty! Hi, I'm Lora. Lora is my first name but I go by my middle name of Deann. I've been making soap since 2009 out of my home in Portland, Oregon. I've moved my workshop a couple times since I started and finally invested a little money to upgrade my basement laundry room to my laundry room/soap workshop.


My remodel included installing a good fan to vent fumes, added counter space, a sink, and lots of shelving. It's not beautiful, I could still paint and will when I have more time, but it's clean, safe, and functional and I really enjoy working in it.

As I mentioned earlier, by day I'm a software engineer. Although I've never said this before, one of the main reasons I started making soap was because I was playing around with creating a website years ago. Once I got it working I felt compelled to sell something on it and Lora's Beauty was born! I didn't know at the time that I'd prefer the soap making process to the website (and software) making process but that's where I am now!

I sold my soap for many years on just my website before I finally opened my Etsy shop in 2019. Since opening on Etsy, my sales have really grown. I've always felt my products were great and I use them myself, but it was hard to drive traffic to a small website. My business regret is that I didn't open sooner on Etsy.


I live with my longtime boyfriend, Audrey the cat, Ed (pictured right) and Olive the Cockatiels, and Harlan the Grey Parrot. 

I talk on the phone to my mom several times a day (yes, I typed day.) I have a wonderful son who lives in Alaska right now. He is in the Coast Guard. Because of the global pandemic, I haven't seen him for over a year. I miss him but am immensely proud of him. He's a good, kind, smart, and happy person and that makes me happy and satisfied.

In my spare time, I enjoy yoga, which I haven't done in several months due to the pandemic and surgeries, bike riding, cooking, and reading. I also rediscovered how much I love swimming and will be taking that back up when the pools open again, and sewing. Yes, I was one of the many people who bought a sewing machine this year and have already made several Christmas gifts. 

I have many pet peeves but I won't list them here because I've discovered over the years what bugged me once no longer does and vise versa. I love my sleep and often get 10 hours of sleep a night. Mornings are my most productive time of the day so I guess I'm a morning-person. My favorite season was unabashedly summer, but lately because of wild fires and climate change, it's autumn.

The thing I like most about running Lora's Beauty is sharing what I made with my customers. I feel strongly about making an eco-friendly, useful product and take pride in it's quality. Therefore, it's always a joy to share it with like-minded people.

Thank you for reading and I hope this post was a useful introduction to me, the maker at Lora's Beauty!

PS. The cyber sale on my Etsy site is still active until December 2! Shop now for 10% everything in my store!


Friday, November 20, 2020

Etsy Cyber Week Sale

 

Looking for a beautiful, useful gift? I've got my online store and Etsy site all stocked for the holidays! 

Handcrafted skin soothing body soaps, shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, and even dog shampoo for all your loved ones are available. 

In addition, starting this Sunday, Nov 22 thru Dec 2 I'm offering 10% off in my Etsy shop!


Gift wrapping always available in a reusable washcloth.

Shop small and socially distanced!