Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Introducing.... Some of my Newest Soaps

I've been working on some new soaps that I will be listing through out the next week here are a few.

Mandorla Soap - 5.5oz - Almond and Honey

This huge 5.5 oz shea butter soap has enticing aroma of bitter almond essential oil and the sweetness of honey. Bitter Almond has warm aroma, very similar to "almond extract". Honey has wonder emollient properties that soothe, protect, and moisturize the skin.

Verde - 4.5oz - Lime and Peppermint

This refreshing 4.5 oz shea butter soap has the uplifting aroma of crisp clean peppermint, and sweet citrus lime. This light fresh fragrance is great for summer time.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Treasury Features

Here's one of the treasuries I was featured in this week!
Don't forget to enter in my contest for a chance to win $10 to spend in my shop or FREE soap . Click here to see how to enter!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Feature - SmuTopia

Give us a summary of your shop, and how you got started.
When I was planning my wedding, I just couldn't find the right jewelry to wear for my big day. Being the crafty girl that I am, I bought some beads and started designing my own. Thus began SmuTopia! I was hooked and haven't stopped making jewelry since.

What motivated you to open your shop?
After several years of desiging and creating jewelry for family and friends I entered an online contest for 'best unknown jewelry designer'. Well guess what--I won! The prize for first place was an online feature and link to my shop on the contest organizer's website. I had already created an Etsy account and the shop link prize got me motivated to set up shop!

How did you select your name?
My full name is Jessica Smutek, so SmuTopia is really a play on my last name. Whenever I'm feeling especially silly, I like to come up with new "Smu" words---Smu-pendous is my favorite but SmuTopia seemed like a better shop name :)

What makes your shop unique?
My shop is an expression of myself--and I am far from ordinary! :)

Do you sell anywhere outside of etsy? If so, where?
In addition to Esty, SmuTopia has recently debuted in the Raleigh, NC craft show scene at the Designers Downtown Market. I plan on selling at several more NC craft shows this summer, as well as the NC State Fairgrounds.

How long have you been making your craft?
Although I have been crafting my whole life, I only began making jewelry about 4 years ago.

Is it your full-time job?
My dream is to make SmuTopia a full time job, but there is a lot more work to be done to make that dream a reality. For the present, SmuTopia is more of a hobby/second job that provides me with creative and personal satisfaction. In my daytime life I work 40 hrs a week as a receptionist and office coordiinator.

How do you balance work, and/or your shop, and home?
Life can really be a constant juggling act. Since opening my Etsy shop I have gotten very good at squeezing in a few minutes of computer time whenever I can--when I first get up, on my lunchbreak, while dinner is in the oven....I'm sure I can only keep up with it because I enjoy Etsy so much :) I also have to give a ton of credit to my incredibly supportive husband--I couldn't do it without him!

What is your favorite material.
I love all beads, but my favorite material to design jewelry with is freshwater pearls. Many of my favorite designs custom orders over the past few years have featured freshwater pearls in a variety of colors.

What inspires you?
Nature is my main inspiration, especially the ocean. I have my Mom to thank for my love of nature--we spent a lot of time outdoors in my childhood and that love of nature is deeply ingrained in my personality.

Click here to visit Smutopia's shop

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I will be running a contest on my blog from April 23 - May 7th, the rules are simple go check out my shop, BONGHI NATURA, come back and leave a comment on my blog with a link or the name of your favorite item from my shop!

1st Prize
- $10 to spend in my shop on anything you like, may be used towards total purchase price, including shipping. $10 must be used all in one purchase any remaining balance will be forfeited .

2nd Prize - A free bar of soap, any bar of soap or exfoliating bar you choose.

I will also choose 3 additional people to receive a free soap sample.

One entry per person, any one who links to my contest or blog on their blog receives an additional entry. (Please let me know in your comment or via convo if you have posted a link)
Winners will be chosen at random on May 8th, so don't forget to check in and see if you've won!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday Tips - Breast Cancer Prevention

To go along with our new Speranza Soap "hope" and our recent post on Pink Ribbon products, I decided to this weeks Tuesday Tips on ways to help reduces your risk of Breast Cancer. This Info is courtesy of Breast Cancer Prevention Fund.

According to Breast Cancer Prevention Fund an average of about one out of every 8 women will get breast cancer in the course of a 90-year life span. Knowing what can increase or decrease your risk for breast cancer is important, so here are some tips to help you live a healthier life.

What Can Make Your Risk for Breast Cancer Go Down? What Can Make Your Risk for Breast Cancer Go Up?
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Losing extra weight
  • Regular exercise
  • Reducing alcohol use
  • Quitting smoking
  • Minimizing/eliminating extra estrogen
  • Preventive measures for high risk (surgery, medication)
  • Personal or family history of breast cancer
  • Smoking
  • Excessive weight
  • Prolonged estrogen exposure
  • Abnormal breast cell growth
  • First full-term pregnancy after age 30
  • Never having a full-term pregnancy
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Early start of menstruation
  • Late menopause

Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?

Although we know some of the risk factors linked to breast cancer, we do not yet know what causes most breast cancer. It could be that a woman of average risk for breast cancer might lower her risk somewhat by changing those risk factors that can be changed. These include giving birth to several children and breast feeding them for several months, not drinking alcohol, exercising regularly, and staying slim. It is also important for women to perform monthly
breast self-exams.

Click here to read the rest of this article from Breast Cancer Prevention Fund. This site is full of a lot of excellent info, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

For The Cure - Breast Cancer Awareness

Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer is a serious issue that is very close to my heart. My "Nana" is a two time survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer about 10 years ago. After going into remission for a few years she found out it was back. She has had two mastectomies and has been cancer free for about 7 years now!! I also lost my great grandma almost 6 years ago to breast cancer that was so advance there was nothing they could do for her. Going through this in my family so many times I know how important it is that people become educated about Breast Cancer, especially if you know you have a high risk. I do my best to educate myself by reading and researching everything I can find, at the bottom of this post I have linked to some great articles about prevention and treatment that I think everyone should check out.
In an effort to help support the cause recently decided to make a new soap and donate 50% of the proceeds from it to Breast Cancer Research. ( Although I must give credit to my aunt for coming up with the idea.) I will be making the donations to Susan G. Komen, but if any one is doing the Breast Cancer 3 day please contact me as I would love to help you reach your goal!

Speranza Soap - "Hope"
This 4oz bar of Shea Butter soap has a balancing and soothing aroma. The combination of Palmarosa essential oil which has a rosy geranium scent and calming Lavender essential oil will relax your mind, body and soul.

Simply Twisted is another etsy artist supporting the fight for the cure.

This yarn is a beautiful subtle varigated pink super soft sock yarn. $15 of this purchase will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Check out these Etsy Shops for more Pink Ribbon Items

Casa Di Bella Jewelry

Licia Pots

Little Worms

Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Click here for information on
Mammograms, MRIs and Breast Exams

Click her for information on Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Click her for information on Types of Breast Cancer

Click here for information on Breast Cancer Treatment

Click here for general information on Breast Cancer from Health Central

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Feature - House of Six Cats

"I use photography as my artistic outlet, and I really enjoy showing everyone how I see the world around us. Through my art I try to find unseen beauty and elegance in the ordinary and pedestrian. I have been told that I see the world with an eye of hope, I think that was the best compliment I have ever recieved."

What motivated you to open your shop?
The constant nagging by my friends to do something with my photography. I have been taking photos since I was a teenager, many moons ago, but never tried to sell it. I feel that Etsy a great place to start selling it.

How did you select your name?
I wanted something unique and memorable, at the time we had six cats, so I thought it was a clever name.

What makes your shop unique?

Well, I like to think that my images have a style that is distinctive to me. And I also offer creations made from my images that I don't see in other photography shops.

Do you sell anywhere outside of etsy? If so, where?

I also have images on, and I hope to have stuff in some local brick and mortar shops this summer.

How long have you been making your craft?
For about 25 years.

Is it your full-time job?
No, I still have a day job.

How do you balance work, and/or your shop, and home?
I have the ability to pimp on the forums from work, and I try to work on my photography in the evenings. But it is very hard, there is never enough hours in the day.
What is your favorite material.
Well, I guess it would be the shrink material I use to make my night lights from.
What inspires you?
Everything, I walk around and try to find unique ways to see the world.

Gift Guide

My Rosa Soap Made it into a Gift Guide!

Click here to check out more of the Gift Guide

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Feature - Lake Erie Beach Glass

LAKE ERIE BEACH GLASS "offers ONLY authentic sea beach glass that has been tumbled by nature's wind, surf, and sand! We create beautiful jewelry designs from the pieces that we pick up off the shore just as they were found!"

Give us a summary of your shop, and how you got started. is stocked with handmade artisan jewerly that uses genuine sea beach glass as its main element. Sea Beach glass is old glass that once served a purpose as dinnerware, tableware, apothecary, medicine, and poison bottles. It may have been used as fruit and canning jars, or even whiskey and liqour bottles. Whatever their original purpose, they have found their way into the oceans and lakes where nature tumbled it for several years into smoothly frosted little gems. They are depostied on the shores where my family and I collect them and make unique wearable pieces of art with them.

What motivated you to open your shop?
I opened a shop on Etsy after hearing about the site from a fellow artisan at a local festival.

How did you select your name?
Selecting a name proved to be very difficult, actually! I had tried to come up with something catchy and unique but since I started my business during a time when sea glass was barely known, I decided that I should go with a name that links it to what I do.

What makes your shop unique?
I think my shop is unique in several ways. I am able to take something that was once considered trash and give it new purpose by making it into something new. I try to reach a wide variety of buyers as well by offering designs made in simplest form to classic and even off the wall unique!

Do you sell anywhere outside of etsy? If so, where?
I actually started out on eBay and have participated in a few craft shows. I currently am featured at Pure Art Gallery in the Cayman Islands, at Glass Growers Gallery in Erie, Pa. and at The Kada Gallery also in Erie Pa. I am an active North American Sea Glass Association member and will be participating in the Sea Glass Festival this year in October at Lewes Delaware on the University Campus.
How long have you been making your craft?
I've been collecting and using sea beach glass in my creations for the past 7 years now.

Is it your full-time job? How do you balance work, and/or your shop, and home?
I quite my secular job only 4 years ago after having my 3rd child. I currently have four children ranging from age 2 to 15 years of age. I run my business full time, homeschool my children full time, and run a household full time. How do I manage? I sometimes wonder that myself!:) It is difficult to explain but I DO try to have an organized daily schedule of activities. I HAVE to be flexible enough in the schedule to allow for my childrens different needs by age. They too are also a part of my business and enjoy taking breaks down by the beach!
What is your favorite material.* I love using sterling silver and copper!
What inspires you?
I am inspired by different things daily! I sometimes call myself the moody jeweler! I can receive a magazine in the mail that will have an awesome picture on the front using a unique color scheme and that will inspire me. My walks on the beach and viewing our Lake Erie sunsets will inspire me. Hearing the children play, laugh, and giggle will inspire me. My inpsiration comes from all around me and it effects my mood. My mood determines what I will produce for the day.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Treasury Feature

I was featured in this treasury last week!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tuesday Tips - Home Hair Care Recipes

Healthy Hair

1. Choose the right shampoo and conditioner. Shampoo washes away dirt, dust, and other particles that don't belong on your hair. Because hair, like skin, tends to become less oily with age, choose a shampoo formulated for dry or normal-to-dry hair. Shampoo gently rather than vigorously, and concentrate the lather on your scalp, carrying it down to the drier ends.

Frequent shampooing will not cause any problems, but be sure to use a conditioner. Although many of the commercial claims for conditioners may be exaggerated, a conditioning rinse can coat the hair with a lubricant that replaces the sebum (the covering that protects the hair's outer layer, called the cuticle) stripped off by shampoo. By doing so, it enhances shine and makes hair more manageable. You don't need expensive products with exotic ingredients unless you like the way they smell or feel.

2. Treat wet hair with care. Use a towel to blot your hair dry rather than rubbing or pulling, and untangle it with a wide-tooth comb. Don't use a brush on wet hair, and avoid hot blow-dryers. High heat on wet hair causes the water under the cuticles to form bubbles like those in boiling water; these bubbles stress and break hair. Set your dryer on the low or medium setting, and keep it moving so that air circulates through the hair rather than concentrating on one spot.

3. Buy good hair tools. Look for combs and brushes with smooth, rounded teeth or bristles. If they feel scratchy when you run your hand over them, they can tear your hair. Brush your hair only enough to style and groom it. The old 100-strokes-a-night rule you may have heard about is left over from the days when people shampooed their hair with soap and had to brush out the resulting film.

4. Don't overprocess your hair. Too-frequent use of perm, coloring, or straightening agents -- or scheduling these processes too close together -- can literally dissolve hair strands.

5. Avoid excessive sun exposure. Sunlight can break down the hair's protein structure, leaving it vulnerable to breakage. Lighter hair (either naturally light or chemically bleached) is most vulnerable because it has less protective pigment. Hair sunscreens have not been proven to prevent damage, but a hat or scarf does a good job of shielding your hair from the sun.

Tips from reader's digest

Here are a few recipes/tips you can make at home.

  • Fly Away and Static Control
Natural hand lotion

Apply a small dab of natural hand lotion to the palm of your hand. Rub hands together and apply to roots of hair.

  • Frizz Control for Curly Hair
1 small aloe vera leaf

Snip off end of leaf and apply a dollop of aloe vera gel to palm. Work through hair to ends.

  • Jojoba Hot Oil Treatment

2 teaspoons jojoba oil

1 teaspoon soybean oil

Combine ingredients then warm gently on low heat. Test temperature on inside of forearm. Massage mixture into hair.Wrap hair in a hot towel or cover with shower cap or plastic wrap for 15 minutes. Shampoo & rinse out. Recipe may be doubled for very long hair.

For More Hair Care Recipes Check out Long Locks Hair Care Cookbook

It's been a crazy week!

We have been absolutely slammed this week, here's some pics of what I brought to the post office this morning!
I had family in visiting for the weekend and kindly recruited them to help me package up all my orders! We're us until 1 am packing everything up so it would be all ready for me to bring to the post office first thing this morning.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Feature - Jennifer Ladd

Jennifer Ladd

Handmade purses, bags, accessories, and baby items

Give us a summary of your shop, and how you got started.

I make handmade purses and bags - each is a one-of-a-kind piece with special attention to the details. My goal is to make a bag that is not only useful, but CUTE too.
I also make handmade items for baby (baby booties, bibs and burp cloths, diaper changing sets). I make them stylish for today's "hip" baby with bright colors and funky designs.

I just quit my "real job" as a French teacher to take on a much more important role: a stay-at-home-mom to my little daughter. I have always said my "dream job" was to run my own business and sell my handmade items, and when I quit being a teacher to stay home with my girl, I realized I would now have the time to do it. I gave it a try, and it's worked!

What motivated you to open your shop?
I have always said that if I won the lottery, I would start my own business and sell my handmade items. I never actually thought it was practical or possible. My husband, though, never saw it as a dream. He told me over and over to quit teaching and give it a try. When we made the decision that I would quit teaching to stay home with my little girl, I decided to make the leap and try opening a shop.

How did you select your name?
I had a more creative name picked out, but someone gave me the advice to use my own name so that when I sold off of Etsy, people would recognize the handmade nature of my items. I'm not sure if they were right (I loved the name I had picked out), but at least it's easy for me to remember!

What makes your shop unique?
I try to make my store bright and funky. I use bold patterns, usually not the typical, pale baby pastels. Each of my purses is designed by me and is a one-of-a-kind original.

Do you sell anywhere outside of etsy? If so, where?
I sell at two boutiques in Milwaukee, WI (The Paper Boat Boutique and Fasten Collective) and at one in Madison, WI (MoCo Market).

How long have you been making your craft?
I have been sewing since as long as I can remember (my mom says I started when I was 3 - I think she's exaggerating!!). I learned to sew by watching my grandma and then copying what she did to make clothes for my dolls. I never stopped sewing but I hasn't been until recently that I've started selling my craft.

Is it your full-time job?
No, I don't use this as dependable income, but that's what makes it fun. I quit my job as a French teacher so I can spend my days raising a smart, caring, thoughtful daughter. I don't want to take my time away from her. She is my "full-time job" (the best I've ever had!!) I work on my projects in the evening when my husband is home and is able to have some "daddy-daughter time" with her while I work.

How do you balance work, and/or your shop, and home?
Some days it is tough to be sewing while I hear my husband and my daughter playing and giggling in the other room. I know that time will pass so quickly and I want to enjoy every minute of life with her. Luckily, I do spend all of my day with her and I do really enjoy my evening sewing time (a little mental break for me). Also, she usually spends the evening playing at my feet, anyway! She has started to have a lot of fun playing with my sewing scraps and supplies (a very cool thing for me to see since I, myself, used to do the same thing at my grandma's feet!)

What is your favorite material.
Fabric. Bright, funky, beautiful.

What inspires you?
Pretty colors and pretty patterns. When I see beautiful color combinations, my brain does a happy dance.

Click here to visit Jennifer Ladd

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Treasury Features!

I made this treasury this week " Simplicity"
I was also featured in this treasury today, Thanks Samantha

New Soap - Great For Men and Women

Terra Soap - 4oz - Patchouli, Vetiver, and Ylang Ylang

Patchouli, Vetiver, & Ylang Ylang

This 4oz bar of soap has a deep earthy aroma. It contains musky patchouli; woody vetiver, and sweet ylang ylang. This bar of soap also contains bentonite clay which is derived from volcanic ash sediment. This clay has excellent oil absorbing properties, and is thought to remove acne causing toxins from the skin and revitalize tired skin.

Legno Soap 4oz - Sandalwood Bergamot Benzoin

Sandalwood, Bergamot, & Benzoin

This 4 oz bar of soap has a warm rich aroma. The combination of musky sandalwood, sweet bezoin, and fresh citrus bergamot create a soothing bar to balance your sense.

Energia Soap 4oz - Bergamot, Basil, Lime and Grapefruit

This 4oz olive oil base soap is a combination of bergamot, basil, lime and grapefruit, that has a sweet, citrus, fruity scent with a slightly spicy undertone. This refreshing aroma is uplifting and energizing and will give you a jump start in the morning.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tresury Features

Two of my soaps were featured in treasuries this week!

Thanks Anne Julie!

Thanks Backwood Sophisticate!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tuesday Tips -Healthy Skin

Here are some great tips on ways to keep your skin healthy and prevent sun damage.

Daily Preventive Skin Care

The following are some daily measures for skin protection:

  • Don't wash your face too often with tap water. (Once a day is enough.) It strips the skin of oil and moisture. In addition, chlorinated water, particularly at high temperatures, poses special risks for wrinkles.
  • Wash your face with a mild soap that contains moisturizers. Avoid alkaline soaps, especially with deodorant.
  • Pat the skin dry and immediately apply a water-based moisturizer.
  • Always apply sunscreen, even if going outdoors for short periods.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Alcohol increases the risk for leaks in the capillaries, which allows more water in and causes sagging and puffiness. Capillary leakage increases when one is lying down.
  • Lie on the back when sleeping. This helps offset the effects of gravity.

Avoid Sun Exposure

One of the most important ways to prevent skin damage is to avoid episodes of excessive sun exposure. The following are some specific guidelines:

  • Use sunscreens that block out both UVA and UVB radiation. However, do not rely only on sunscreen for sun protection. Wear protective clothing and sunglasses in addition.
  • Avoid exposure particularly during the hours of 10 AM to 4 PM, when sunlight pours down 80% of its daily UV dose.
  • Avoid reflective surfaces, such as water, sand, concrete, and white-painted areas. Clouds and haze are not protective and in some cases may intensify UVB rays.
  • Ultraviolet intensity depends on the angle of the sun, not heat or brightness. So the dangers are greater the closer to the summer-start date. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere, UV intensity in April (two months before summer starts) is equal to that in August (two months after summer begins).
  • The higher the altitude the quicker one sunburns. One study suggested, for example, that an average complexion burns in 6 minutes at an altitude of 11,000 feet at noon, compared with 25 minutes at sea level in a temperate climate.
  • Avoid sun lamps and tanning beds or salons. They provide mostly high-output UVA rays. Some experts believe that 15 - 30 minutes at a tanning salon is as dangerous as a day spent in the sun. People should not be misled by advertising claims of "safe" tanning or promotions offering unlimited tanning.
Read This Entire Article from Health Central

Check out Tan Central for some great tips on how to apply self tanner, and reviews on products.