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Lora's artisan soaps, an affordable luxury.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Countertops,Tile, Soap, and Life Today

I've been holding out on you. It may seem by the looks of my posts lately, that I'm not up to much. That is FAR from the truth though.

This holiday season I decided to branch out a little and participated in a Holiday Bazaar that was NOT affiliated with my day job. Dec 6 found me at the Madeleine Marketplace held at the Madeleine church in Portland. I'm so glad I did this bazaar! I met some great people, sold a lot of awesome soap, and even picked up a new contract for soap! Needless to say, next year I'm going to try and participate in a few more holiday bazaars.

Since then, I have been back to frantically replenishing my soap stock. I've made more Peppermint Ice, Cinnamon&Honey, Lavender Meringue, and Activated Charcoal soap in the past few weeks.

Speaking of the Activated Charcoal Goats' Milk soap, I've changed the mold and am now using the cube mold.

It looks so sophisticated and it's still packed with the same wonderful ingredients and scented with lemongrass and basil essential oils!

If you follow me on Instagram (click here if you don't), you may have noticed that I finally got the 'Shopping' feature working on my posts! Now when you see a photo of my soap, you can click the tag on the image and be directed to my website to order! I'm so glad to finally add this functionality to my business.

On another soap related note, I will need to raise my prices come the new year. I try very hard to keep my prices to a minimum and in the almost 10 years I've run my little soap business I've never raised the prices. Unfortunately, what with the cost of supplies going up and using inferior ingredients not an option, that's got to change.

So come January all soap bars go up in price by $1. Good news though, I will add a permanent special so you can order 5 bars for $25 which will bring the price back down to $5 a bar! I will also continue to offer Free Shipping on orders over $35. I will make this change to the website sometime in January when I have time, so get your orders in fast before the price goes up!

I know I've blogged a lot about my kitchen projects over the years (here, here, and here), but I've got another update!

I've been wanting a tile backsplash for ages but felt restricted by the way the counter tops went up the wall a few inches (see photo). Since the counter tops were over 15 years old and I am no longer crazy about the red color, I saved my money and got new counter tops!

I went with a Quartz in Cortina. Here's a small image.
LG Hausys Viatera 3 in. x 3 in. Quartz Countertop Sample in Cortina

Once the counter tops were installed, Jeff and I tiled the backsplash! I used Cloe wall tile from Bedrosians. Here's an image:

We installed the tile ourselves and this was the first tile job I've ever done. I'm so pleased with how it turned out!

There are a gazillion websites and videos (I watched most of them!) that show you how to DIY your own tile backsplash so I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert now and write about it.

Instead, I know you're waiting for the before and after pictures and here you go:

BEFORE (not bad...)

And After (with the new stove):

Love the new sink!
I even added counter tops to the hutch.

As you can see, things have been busy around here!

I hope your 2018 was an enlightening year full of personal growth and compassion!

Here's to 2019 and all it has in store!

Friday, November 30, 2018

On The Rack and Other News

It seems this time of year finds me frantically replenishing my soap stock and this year is no different.

I sold out of the always popular Lavender Meringue at the holiday bazaar I participated in a couple weeks ago. I even have a couple back orders for it. Thankfully, I was able to make more and it should be fully cured and ready to ship next week!

Lavender Meringue is coveted not only for it's tantalizing scent (only essential oils are used to scent all Lora's Beauty soaps; never any fragrance oils) but also for the all-natural ingredients that go into it including a rich, moisturizing head of shea butter rich soap (aka the meringue.)

Also running low, but not completely out, is the very fragrant Honey Safflower bar. I've made this bar of soap from the very beginnings of Lora's Beauty without much change. Sometimes you get things right the first time!

And because I was in the soap making mood this past weekend, I made a new bar; Oatmeal Calendula. I plan to replace the Oatmeal Ginger with this bar.

Since colloidal oatmeal is added to both bars I decided that my oatmeal bar should be over-the-top skin healthy! So instead of ginger, I added calendula petals and instead of scenting it with cassia essential oil, I used spearmint and eucalyptus essential oils! If you have sensitive skin, this is the goats' milk bar for you!

Lora's Beauty is currently stocked with plenty of fine, crafted bars of goats' milk soap and these bars on the curing rack will be available next week, in time for holiday shipping!

Lora's Beauty ships free in the US on all orders over $30!

If you want to smell and handle the soap yourself before purchasing, I will be at the Madeleine Marketplace on Thursday December 6 from 2pm - 8pm. The address is 3123 NE 24th Avenue in Portland, Oregon. Stop by and say "hi", there's a free gift in it for you if you mention my blog, while supplies last.

I may be bias, but I can't think of a better gift for that hard to shop for person than a luxurious bar of goats' milk soap!

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Visit To Leach Botanical Gardens

Summer used to be my favorite time of year in the Pacific Northwest. When my son was in school we would plan vacations for the first week he was out so we would be home and in town for the majority of the summer. Once he graduated and we started vacationing without him, we planned our out of town trips in October.

Lately, with our summer days being routinely 90 degrees or more, autumn and particularly October, is looking like it's now my favorite time of year in Portland!

With beautiful sunny skies and 70 degree weather for the past week, we took Sunday to visit the Leach Botanical Gardens in SE Portland for the first time.

The garden has a rich history having been donated to the City upon the death of it's owners, John and Lilla Leach.

The gardens are free of charge to visit (at least we didn't pay and didn't see anywhere to pay.)

I've included a few photos of our visit. Enjoy!

Looking up to the tree tops and sky.

Although the garden was referred to as Sleepy Hollow by it's owners, the place reminded me of the Shire. I kept expecting to see Hobbits running around.

The sign says 'Ferns' but there's not a fern in sight here.

I had to sneak up on this dinosaur so not to scare it.

A droopy, dead sunflower marks the end of summer for sure.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Healthy, Easy Ingredient Substitution

I get a lot of promotional emails. Most of them I delete, however there are a select few I look at. That's how I stumbled on this great ingredient that you can use to substitute butter or oil in your baking recipes.

New-Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies With All Tahini & No Butter
image from Food52

The image above stopped me in my tracks when I saw it in my email box one morning. My only thought was "I'M GOING TO GET ME SOME OF THOSE COOKIES IN MY MOUTH!"

Even better, these cookies were made with tahini instead of butter! Tahini is made from ground, hulled sesame seeds and can be found usually by the peanut butter in most grocery stores. It's lower in fat if you get the kind made with raw seeds rather than roasted. If you've had hummus before then you've had tahini as it's listed as an ingredient.

The best part though is tahini is quite healthy. It's a great source of calcium, magnesium and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. It's also vegan, if you swing that way. Compared to peanut butter, tahini has higher levels of calcium and fiber and lower levels of sugar and fatty acids.

And the cookies? Yes, I made them and they are (were) FREAKING AMAZING! Even better than the Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies everyone has made. Way better. They're soft and chewy even after sitting in the cookie jar a couple days.

I know, you want the recipe. Ok, here's the link. Now, go grab yourself some tahini and make these and the next time you're baking and your recipe calls for oil or butter, reach for tahini and substitute it one for one instead.

Friday, September 7, 2018

New And Sure To Be A Favorite!

Good day and a quick check in to announce the debut of a new goats' milk soap from Lora's Beauty!

Introducing Spearmint Loofah! A clean, refreshing bar with a piece of loofah embedded in it for exfoliating dry, dead skin.

You're sure to fall in love with the awakening scent of spearmint but don't overlook the skin benefits of this essential oil. It's anti-fungal properties will help calm most rashes and acne and it has a nice cooling, relaxing feel on the skin.

A dusting of blue mica is added; you may feel as though you've stepped into a seaside vacation!

Grab a few bars and enjoy a little luxury in your life!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Website Updates!

Good news! Google has enabled custom URLs for personal google sites!

Remember this post where I unveiled my new Lora's Beauty website? Well, good news, you can now access it by typing lorasbeauty.com in the address bar. No redirect necessary.

So, as promised in my previous post, Lora's Beauty is having a sale to celebrate!! Starting now until Labor Day order at least FIVE all-natural, skin moisturizing, herb infused, essential oil scented bars and get one free! In addition, if you order over $30 you'll get FREE SHIPPING (discounts taken automatically!) Oh yea, it's your birthday, it's your birthday! 

We're clearing out the stock to make way for some major holiday soap making and celebrating the new look so click on over to the NEW WEBSITE , order some while supplies last and add a review to share the Lora's Beauty love.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Outdoor Aviary

We knew when we got our birds, Ed and Olive the cockatiels, and Harlan the grey parrot, that we wanted them to fly and experience the outdoors. So it was only a matter of time before we started thinking about outdoor aviaries.

We have a very small yard and when we started to look into outdoor aviaries it was apparent that finding a place to put one wasn't going to be easy. We also had specific requirements we wanted which were hard to meet with an already built aviary.

We wanted an aviary that could easily break down and store in the winter. We also required a double door so moving in and out of the aviary would not pose an opportunity for the birds to fly out. Lastly, we needed stainless steel or galvanized stainless steel mesh that was small enough for the cockatiels.

After many Google and Amazon searches, we decided the best solution was to build one and to build it under the maple tree along the front pathway. Right there where Jeff is sitting.

The first step towards building the aviary required the removal of the stones, leveling the ground, and installing pavers.

We placed weed barrier fabric on the ground then sand and gravel, and the pavers over that. We used fairly large pavers to minimize the cracks so the aviary had a sturdy surface.

Using 2 X 2s that were 8 feet long, we built 9 panels that made up the aviary's sides, doors, and roof.

We primed and painted the panels so they would withstand the weather better.

Jeff found a place on the internet that sold a large roll of after weld galvanized steel mesh that met our needs. It was delivered on a large truck and yes, it was heavy.

The mesh was cut and stapled to the panels overlapping the edges to secure it even better as Harlan could most certainly pull out staples. The panels were then bolted together.

The aviary was Jeff's design and he did most the work. It consumed the better part of two weekends and the Fourth of July holiday to make.

Naturally, the birds love it!

Come October, once it starts raining, we can unbolt the panels and store them in the garage.

Right now, while the weather's nice, these caged birds are enjoying the outdoors!