Thursday, May 30, 2013


My new tincture collection

One of the things I love to do is to make tinctures for the base of my perfumes.  This is a trick I learned from Charna Ethier of Providence Perfumes. I bought some Everclear alcohol, placed any dry herb or fruit in a canning jar, and covered it with the alcohol. These jars would sit on my porch windowsills and musically make a "Tink" as the top would expand and contract during the day and night. Nothing was safe from my tincturing experiments. I even tinctured steel cut oatmeal.

The other day I was out on my porch, cleaning up for the summer. I noticed some of my tinctures had been sitting for 2 years. I decided to filter and start using them. They look really pretty in the bottles with the labels, don't you think? I'm already thinking of what I can add to the steel cut oatmeal...

Yours in Gratitude,

Monday, May 27, 2013

Gratitude List 5.27.13

My Dad, an army veteran (with the wine rack he built)

1. A Saturday evening dinner with my whole family, out-of-state children included
2. Watching a hummingbird feed from my honeysuckle
3. The heavy rain, for my garden
4. The sunshine, for my garden
5. For today, Memorial Day, and for all who gave me this freedom (Thanks Dad!!)

What are you grateful for this week?

Yours in Gratitude,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

From the Inside Out: Eating to Improve Your Skin (Recipe: Kale Salad with Sunflower Seeds)

 Kale Salad with Sunflower Seeds

I'd like you to meet my friend Karen.  I asked her to do write my blog today because she has some great ideas about eating for healthy skin. Head on over to to read more of her work.

Like most women, I've gotten a lot of advice, over the years, about skin care. This advice came from my mom, my dermatologist, my girlfriends, the salesperson at the health food store, even infomercials (I'm not too proud to admit it!) and almost all of it focused on what to put onto my skin. Rarely did anyone address the fact that what we put into our bodies affects our skin as much as what we put on it.

 I recently attended a lecture by dermatologist, Dr. Howard Murad, one of the world's leading skin - and health - care authorities. He is associate clinical professor of medicine at U.C.L.A., a physician who specializes in both inclusive health and dermatology, and the founder of Murad Skincare Inc. He spoke, primarily, about the concept of "cellular water," a comprehensives approach to understanding health and aging.

As Dr. Murad explains it, the science of cellular water looks at "the ability of cell membranes to hold water within a cell as the fundamental marker of youthful good health." Because skin can only be beautiful if it's healthy at the cellular level, Dr. Murad strongly recommends a diet that optimizes cell health. "We must create a nutrient rich environment within the body so that all of the building blocks that the body needs to create strong cells are readily available." (Murad)

So which foods nourish the cells and create this kind of nutrient rich environment, which contributes to healthy skin? Four vitamins, in particular, will really help you get your glow on:

1. Vitamin A is extremely important for the skin because it helps to rebuild tissues. Think dark, leafy greens (especially kale and romaine lettuce), carrots, squash, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes.

2. Vitamin E helps to fight free radicals in the body, which helps address and prevent age spots, wrinkles and stretch marks. Foods rich in Vitamin E are olives (and olive oil), nuts and seeds, wheat germ and dark leafy greens.

3. Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, which helps to maintain firmness and elasticity. To ensure that you're getting enough Vitamin C, eat lots of citrus fruit, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato and cucumber.

4. B Vitamins boost circulation and give the skin a healthy glow. Making sure that your skin is receives enough oxygen also helps with breakouts and acne. Be sure to consume adequate amounts of eggs, nuts/seeds, raisins, broccoli, tomatoes and carrots

Of course, staying well-hydrated and using gentle, natural products - like Alegna - contribute to healthy skin, as well. Always remember that healthy skin comes from feeding our skin well, both on the outside AND on the inside.

This Kale and Sunflower Seed Salad is vitamin rich and very refreshing. At the change of seasons, when skin can become stressed, eating salads like this will give your complexion the boost that it needs.

Enjoy! I'd love for you to share your favorite tips for getting your glow on in the comments below.

Kale and Sunflower Seed Salad

8 ounces kale leaves, torn into small pieces

1 avocado, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Splash of balsamic vinegar

2 heaping Tbsp. sunflower seeds

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine the kale, avocado, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Massage together until the avocado is creamy and the kale leaves are slightly wilted. Let the salad sit for about 30 minutes; this allows the dressing to tenderize the kale even more. when ready to eat, add sunflower seeds and toss, then add salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves 2, as a main course or 4, as a side salad.
~Karen Devlin is a Holistic Health Counsellor and Author of the healthy cooking blog, SiciLean. For more articles, recipes and healthy inspiration, visit

Yours in Gratitude,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gratitude List 5.20.13 - The 2013 Soap Conference

What an inspiring week!  So many soapy to be grateful for.

Marla speaking while I make shampoo
1. Attending the 2013 Handcrafted Soap Conference in Raleigh, N. Carolina
2. Sharing a room with Amanda Griffin of Lovin Soap.  Good friend, awesome roommate!
3. Being "on stage" in front of 325 other soap makers.  Marla Bosworth of Back Porch Soap presents a workshop on Natural Shampoos and I got to demonstrate with a camera focused on the product. (I will admit I was happy the camera wasn't focused on me)
4. Learning so many new techniques & ideas, laughing so hard my sides hurt, and loving all my old and new soap friends
5. My 2 hour delayed flight home, giving me time to return emails and write this blog

What are you grateful for this week?

Yours in Gratitude,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

2013 Soap Conference

I'm ready to go!
My suitcase is packed, my boarding pass printed and I am ready for the 2013 Soap Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. So much anticipation! I am truly grateful today.

Yours in Gratitude,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gratitude List 5.13.13

My mom, at my sisters house, on Mother's Day

1. Spending Mother's Day with my mom
2. Saturday spent teaching Jane how to make soap
3. All the rain for my garden
4. A sliver of moon in the early evening sky last night
5. The lilacs blooming in my yard

What are you grateful for this week?

Yours in Gratitude,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gratitude List 5.6.13

My two students, learning how to line the soap molds with freezer paper

1. Hanging out my laundry to dry
2. An email from my daughter with a new recipe she created
3. Two very enthusiastic soap making students
4. Friday night's "Great Women's" dinner at Tina's house
5. The birds that sing outside my windows

What are you grateful for this week?

Yours in Gratitude,

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May Customer of the Month

D.T. Arcieri is my Customer of the Month for May.


Tell me about yourself-
I am a biologist and playwright; a husband, dad, son and brother; and, I hope, a good friend.

How long have you been using Alegna Soap products? What product is your favorite?
I’ve been using Alegna soap since the early years. Love the product line! I’m notably fond of the peppermint scrub and honey oatmeal soaps. The exfoliating aspects of the crushed apricot kernels and oatmeal flakes in these soaps are great! Alegna has also made a custom soap for me – Tea Tree Oil and Oregano – at an excellent price. Cool, huh?

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I write drama in my studio when not working or being a family man. My plays are dark comedies that have been produced across America, and in the last few years across the world. (This is Angela. Here is my plug for D.T.'s website… Check it out)

What is your favorite movie?  Movie star? What was the last movie you saw?
I love old classic movies with the legends: Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Davis, Errol Flynn. Watching a vintage movie on TCM while cooking in the kitchen is probably my favorite thing to do.
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Become the benevolent King of a small island nation in the Mediterranean. I would give everyone golden bathtubs and a lifetime supply of Alegna soap.
Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day would start with a good workout, then a couple of hours of playwriting. Making and sharing an interesting lunch, with a glass of great wine would come next. After that, a nap. The rest of the day I’d sit in the shade with a good book, occasionally looking up to watch my lovely wife gardening.
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee in the morning. Wine in the evening.
Are you a morning or a night person?
I seem to be most functional mid-day and midnight. Go figure.
What inspires you?
Kindness and generosity of spirit inspire me. Thinkers inspire me, but Doers inspire me more. Ultimately Nature is the most inspirational: its awesome power, beauty and grandeur.
Yours in Gratitude,