Homemade Soap and Midsummer Walks

Well Hello Dear Readers,

I hope you’re all well during this most magical time of the year.

It’s bright and warm after a heavy downpour through the night. The rain pounded with such force on the roof while the trees bowed in the wind to Mother Nature. I love rainfalls in the evening. It feels so cleansing not only for whatever my mental state might be but for the earth. The green and growth that ensues is glorious. No one is ever in our nearby forest park so Henry and I get soaked so we can spend some time in solitude with the towering ancients.

This is one of my absolute favourite times of the year – mid-summer, the magical month of June. Perhaps informed by the fact that my birthday is right around the summer solstice, the cusp of magic. But aside from that – all the green and flowers and promise of summer before you! If the evening is fine, I’ve been sitting on our deck writing in my journal under a pink and blue twilight sky. Wisps of cloud billowing into cotton candy tufts under a crescent moon. The other evening while out around 9 pm with the moon and sky (and crows, can not forget my friendly crows) I was pondering what to share with you in here: the deck gardening, dying projects, house renovations, beach combing, camping? But after all that, I remembered that I had our handmade soap curing to be put up in the shop. So, my friends, I present you with our handmade rustic soap <3

In a rustic kitchen, in a colourful house that sits alone against the mossy spruce woodland, my mom and I make a large batch of homemade soap. We have been doing this together since we moved to rural NS 14 years ago. I can honestly say that I have not purchased soap in those years. Even when Jamie and I moved to Toronto for school, we took with us a big batch of soap. Visiting at Christmas or for the most sacred summer time spent in the East Coast, I’d return with more soap πŸ™‚

When we first opened our little shop, we did include our homemade soap and we have been intending to add it again just to share with you another small handmade thing that comes from our home and hearts. The bars are small – roughly: Height: 6.5 cm (2.5 in) Width: 6.7 cm (2.5 in) Depth: 1.7 cm (0.7 in). They are made with all natural ingredients and no harsh preservatives: Calendula infused olive oil, palm oil, soy oil, lye, spring water, lavender, steel cut oats, and a dash of table salt. The combination of lye mixed with the oils is known as saponification. The infused oil is made from plants picked from my mom’s rural NS garden that sits amidst salty air and crisp evergreens.

We make the soap together in her kitchen and let it cure for a couple of months. This is a necessary step for the soap to be useable. The soap needs to be placed on an aerated dish otherwise, it will begin to turn a bit soft. You also must be mindful of your eyes because it will sting.

This is the first batch that we made especially for the shop. So in a lot of ways, this is an experiment for me in terms of the packaging and shipping, etc. Unfortunately, shipping is very expensive in Canada unless you are mailing letter mail. I wish I could amend the shipping costs but they will have to be shipped as packages so that will be reflected in the price. I do hope you will try our rustic soap. It has been a great joy to use over the years and helps us feel a little more connected to our roots.

And aside from soap, I have been knitting a few pairs of mittens using my stash of local wool. I don’t know why I’m so addicted to knitting with the coarse maritime wool, but I am! I think it’s my potato famine and highland clearance ancestors that have imbedded in my DNA to not waste anything so one of my absolute favourite parts of knitting these, is using up the leftovers of my stash. My next shop update will feature 3 pairs of these mittens (perfect for the solstice :))!

And then we have been having our daily walks. Multiple times a day to the woods, to my favourite quaint maritime community that looks like New England – with rock walls and towering pine trees. The walks have been so pleasant lately. Where we live now, the bugs are no where near as ferocious as on the island so that has been very, very nice.

Some art work in the shop
Some thrifted wool – thrift store items prices are sky rocketing but I couldn’t help but buy these 2 Irish wools.

And lastly, I’ve been very quiet in the shop lately. The summer months especially May and June, I generally step away from it. I’m really not interested anymore in using social media. If instagram went back to what it was 5 years ago then maybe but I’m done with the over stimulation, engaging with facades, narcissism and invasive ads and “sponsored” posts. No thank you, I’d rather read, write and no longer be influenced. The blog does have almost 700 readers so, dear reader perhaps I focus my drive to share aspects of my work here instead?

my art work inspired by the natural world around us
Homemade Bread and chicken broth

An invocation that I hope you’ll enjoy <3 Merry Part!

18 thoughts on “Homemade Soap and Midsummer Walks

  1. 🧢Greetings, Julia! Such a sweet surprise to check my emails and find the notification for this post there. Handmade soaps are such a treasure – I have been using them for years and sometimes giving them as gifts. I do not make my own, but am always supporting those who do. Yours look and sound delightful! Love ❀️ the scattering of dried herbs/flowers 🌼 on the top. Ever since you posted months ago about making them with your mom, I have been looking forward to when they would be ready. Am blessed to have purchased a few on Etsy. I too love rustic yarns 🧢. There is something about their rustic quality that provides a sturdy, earthy, close-to-the-sheep sense and feel. When we lived in the northern area of NY (along the Canadian border), I kept the local sheep farmers in business πŸ˜‰. As you well know, in the maritime areas wool needed to have such qualities! Blessings as we approach the Full (Strawberry) Moon and Summer Solstice! πŸŒ• πŸ“ 🌞 🌿 πŸͺ΄ 🌺 🌼

  2. Blessings to you as well Bonnie, your first strawberry moon and summer solstice in MN (if I’m not mistaken!). I hope you’re enjoying your new home this season. It’s always so exciting to see what is growing on your new property. Here, we are actually taking out a lot of invasive plants to plant rhododendron (there are so many beautiful rhododendrons in Nova Scotia).

    I wanted to thank you Bonnie for your message, it’s really nice to hear that you were happy to see my blog being updated. I’m always so ho – hum over the past couple years despite really enjoying writing and sharing. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts <3

    I will mail your soap to you next week! I actually have almost sold out of what we have which really surprised me so this batch (we make relatively small batches) will be an experiment with packaging and shipping etc. and then I'll add them as we cure them. I'm excited, I love having a tiny cottage business <3 I sincerely hope you will like it.

    Happy Mid Summer times!

  3. Hi Julia, I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now but never commented before. I just wanted to show support for you sharing your work here instead of over on social media if that’s something you want to do. I stopped using Instagram / most social media in 2018 for a variety of reasons and don’t miss it for a second. In its absence I have come to absolutely love the much slower pace of blogs. It is such a treat to be notified of a new post, the fact that they come along sporadically adds to the joy. I think it’s such a wonderful antidote to the ultra fast paced world of social media and the drive to be constantly creating content. I also find it much more manageable to read an occasional blog post rather than a continuous and never ending feed.

    Thank you for all that you do share in the thoughtful ways that you do, I hope you have a wonderful midsummer.

    Greetings from England, Jade

    1. Hi Jade,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, they are much appreciated. Congratulations for escaping the world of social media! 2018 is now a long time to be able to really reflect how different life is without it. I wish I could say that I would only use my blog, but for now I’ll be doing the odd post. My key is to just get off fairly quickly after posting. Instagram has changed so much – there are so many more targeted ads and “suggested” posts. I’ve definitely lost the plot with it and have no interest in any other forms of SM. But, for the most part, I’ll definitely be using this for the time being as my main mode of sharing and reaching out to the earth, the universe and everything.

      It’s funny that a blog feels more akin to letter writing of old due to how incredibly fast paced our world has become – ho hum. What gives me comfort and actual excitement at the thought is that, we don’t have to participate. There are other ways to live and connect which foster much better mental health and engagement with the actual world around you <3

      I'm off to walk Henry on this Sunday morning, many blessings to you in England this midsummer <3

      Julia

  4. Your posts are always such a breath of fresh air! Your art, hikes, and garden projects always inspire me to stop doomscrolling and engage with my life. After reading this I spent a couple hours harvesting from my garden: St. John’s wort for salve, a massive bale of garlic, and a bowl of berries. Thank you for your beautiful reminders to engage with the earth.

    1. Hey Lisa,

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts <3 And I feel honoured that what I put out into the vast unknown inspired you to get outside, engage with plants and your immediate, real, earthly environment. It sounds like you had a wonderful time πŸ™‚ A friend of mine recently gifted me a St. John's wort oil and tincture and I absolutely love them!

      Blessings this midsummer and the coming full moon <2

      Julia

  5. Hi Julia!
    I always look forward to your next blog and I just realized these days yours is the only blog I read anymore. Every other blog I enjoyed reading has more or less stopped because the writer turned to Instagram instead. πŸ€”
    I agree with the three lovely ladies Bonnie, Jade and Lisa – this space you have created and hold here is close to sacred. It is a treat whenever I get that special email about a new blog post from you and I save it for me time with a cup of tea, Cocoa or coffee – the same way I love Country Living Magazine. The way you write calms me down, the special way you take pictures so that you capture the magickal essence of that place and moment in time, or just when you describe the weather, your garden, the forests and beaches; it is meditative in the best manner, so soothing. I really want to try my hand at soap making and I daydreamed about getting a few vietnamese pigs the other day partly for helping me with the earth, for the meat and partly because you talked of using the lard in soap making.
    I too am very tired of the new Instagram ( and Pinterest..) and I ponder switching to blog writing instead.
    I am thrilled that you still come back to the blog! Thank you so much for it!
    Blessed Litha/ summer solstice and a blessed strawberry Moon, Elisabeth. πŸŒπŸ“βœ¨

    Ps: I am thinking about printing all your blogposts and putting them in a binder with your illustration from the top on the front – that way I can read it all whenever I want, without needing a phone or pc. πŸ€—πŸ˜Š

    1. Hey Elisabeth!

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts with me, it’s much appreciated and I really enjoyed reading your comment πŸ™‚

      Yeah – blogging does seem like it is fading away. Our attention spans are shortening pretty dramatically and it doesn’t fit the niche of very quick information and video formatting. Because of this, I like it. I’ve been writing in a journal since I was 9 years old and in a way, I see it as a public form of journal writing. It’s really nice to hear that you read my blog akin to reading a magazine. I don’t blame you for being tired of instagram and pinterest (pinterest I abandoned ages ago partly because of the ads…. but also because the scroll is endless and I thought regardless of how many beautiful ideas and artworks you see, it almost deadens you to what you like leaving me overwhelmed). Its such an incredible treat now to just disengage. I realized recently that I essentially have the opposite of FOMO (fear of missing out) and looked it up out of curiosity and it has a name “JOMO” Joy of missing out πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Getting pigs would be a dream! Daydreaming in itself is so wonderful! So dream and who knows what might happen!

      Many many solstice and strawberry moon blessings to you as well!

      (I am honoured that you have the thought of printing my writing! Perhaps someday, I’ll be able to have my words in a tangible form, that is my dream!)

  6. This is so beautiful. I am always so excited when your blog post pops up in my email.

  7. I find that I don’t scroll on Instagram that much lately, either! I just feels different. I love finding homemade, small shop, items that people make and sell and I don’t mind the advertising on there in that way, but I feel the advertising isn’t that any more; it is less like a community market and more like a big box store or Amazon. Not the vibe I am going for 😦

    I am terrible at commenting on blog posts (I am terrible maintaining connections in “real life” too, if I am honest 😦 ) but I have been loving reading your words so so much! And of course your pictures are always so wonderful and inspiring! I am 100% behind you with this blog lol

    1. Hey Old Pine Hollow,

      Thanks for leaving your thoughts. I just noticed your message for some reason WordPress marked as spam and I’m certain it is not! I wonder why, curious!

      I totally agree, the ads are just so relentless. I think I’m actually burnt out from over stimulation which is one of the reasons I’ve left it behind. Happy you’re enjoying my writing, thank you!!

  8. Dear Julia, it’s always such a joy to stop by your blog (and I truly say “stop”, and not “pass”). This is what I love about blogging.
    It makes me so happy to see more and more people I love stepping away from social media. I go in ebbs and flows, sometimes I feel the urge and disengage for weeks, other times I check in every day, but it had been getting to me and my mental health.
    Thank you for this piece of joy. I’m quite jealous of you midsummer – it’s hot and dry here already, and it’s quite hard to be outside when the sun is out. Fire season is always hard.

    With love.
    Cat

    1. Hey Cat,

      It’s so nice to see you here!! Thanks for being supportive and understanding of the decision to step away. I remember when I first deleted facebook back in the day, most people were extremely confused and didn’t understand. It almost felt like deliberate social alienation but I have been acutely aware for like 15 years that my mental health and well being doesn’t jive with social media. Times have definitely changed though and I feel hope everytime I hear someone else voicing the need to disengage for their personal well being. Honestly, just recognizing that and taking time away feels so empowering. When I started using instagram 7 years ago – a huge part of me was screaming at me not to open an account, but I ignored it and then I became addicted and based a lot of my self worth on the opinions of others πŸ™ Among so much else.

      Stepping away for a bit is definitely helpful – I hope you find that. What happens to me if I step away for weeks is that I find it harder and harder to go back and those weeks become months and then anxiety builds because I feel like I have to go back. It’s so confusing and I’m just happy that people are open and talking about it.

      Wishing rain for you in Portugal. Fire season is scary – we actually had a large forest fire in NS last month which is very alarming. Thankfully, we had SO much rain this June, I personally love it – the forest feels lush, fog rolls in and it’s just cleansing. But happy also for this sun that will hopefully grace us for a few days <3 <3

      Sending love to you and your family !

      Julia

  9. Dear Julia,
    I wanted to second what everyone has said, and say that I love reading your posts and meditations, and would be eager to read more if you decided to spend more time writing on the blog! I miss this format, and the space for reflections it permits. It’s more atmospheric and thoughtful than a simple picture. I’m also a knitter and crafter but I live in Berlin and am thirsty for more nature – so it is lovely to have a glimpse of a more wooded life and to be inspired by your doings!
    xx
    Sophie

    1. Hey Sophie,

      Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts with me! It’s really inspiring for me to read and gives me hope that perhaps I still can share, create, write without having to use SM. Where I am in my life, I am definitely mentally not in a place anymore of constant stimulation and keeping up with anything or one except myself in my real solid world. Having said that, I do still love to create and write so thankyou for being supportive. My goal right now is to aim to write at least once every 2 weeks. I know that isn’t a lot but it’s just a goal for the time being – who knows what the future will hold! I think these past 2 years have taught us all that there is no point in trying to predict the future πŸ˜›

      Wishing you crafting and knitting happiness,

      Julia xo

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