Happiness Has a New Address – Dulse & Rugosa
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    Shampoo Bars 101

    Shampoo Bars 101

    When you make natural bath and beauty products and use them everyday you sometimes forgot how scary it was to switch from conventional beauty products.   It has now been four years since I bought a conventional bottle of shampoo and three years since I’ve used a traditional conditioner for my hair.  I take it for granted that people know how to use a shampoo bar.  But I can remember the first time I tried a shampoo bar and how scary it was…I even still used conditioner every day for a month, I was so scared to try something new.  So here it is; the down and dirty guide to using Shampoo Bars.

    We handcraft three different shampoo bars: Lovely Rita and Sweet Melissa and The Man Bar.

    These are our top selling product for a reason.  Once you go to the bar you don’t come back.  Shampoo bars are designed to be used as both your shampoo and your conditioner.  Really, they are.  Our shampoo bars are rich in oils that leave your hair moisturized while still cleaning your hair.  Claire and I both have super curly hair and for decades we have been hair product junkies.  I used to use a bottle of conditioner a week.  I was convinced that they only way my curls would look like curls was if I slathered them in product.  I’ve used everything out there from hot oil treatments to the organic super conditioner.  I found myself spending between 10 and 20 dollars a week just on conditioner!!!  So, when I say you just need to use the shampoo bar I mean it.  Throw your conditioner away.  Clear some space in your bathroom and keep your money where it belongs…in your wallet.

    No conditioner needed. Claire’s awesome hair is proof.

    How to use:  First Step: get your hair wet.  Second Step: Lather your shampoo bar.   You can create all the lather you need in your hands or you can run your bar three or four times over the length of your hair. Third Step: Distribute the suds.  Rub the lather all through your hair and make sure to massage it into your scalp.  Seaweed is really great your dry flaky skin and keeping your scalp happy.  Fourth Step: Rinse  Fifth Step (optional though recommended): Lightly spray your hair with diluted Apple Cider Vinegar (check out our Concentrated Herbal Vinegar Rinse)  I like to think of this step as the conditioner so I let the vinegar sit in my hair for a bit.  I recommend using the vinegar spray for two reasons.  First, shampoo bars are a cold process soap which means they are alkaline.  Your scalp really likes to be at a neutral pH of 7.  Spraying the vinegar neutralizes and balances the pH.  Second, vinegar lays the cuticle of the hair shaft down flat.  This means that when light hits your hair it bounces back creating shiny gorgeous locks.  If you are worried about smelling like a salad for the day, stop worrying right now.  The vinegar smell goes away really quickly or you can use our Concentrated Herbal Vinegar Rinse which is in infused with hair and scalp healthy botanicals and essential oils.  It really doesn’t smell like vinegar.

    Have happy hair without all the products!!!

    What to Expect: The first time you use a shampoo bar you hair will feel different.  It will feel cleaner and lighter.  Some people say that it feels straw like.  This goes away in about a week but could take up to two weeks.  Your hair might get oily fast.  This is because you scalp is used to over producing oil.  With conventional shampoo you are stripping all the oil off of your hair and then replacing it with petrochemicals.  Your scalp doesn’t know that you have conditioned so it over produces oil to replace what it thinks you have lost.  This means that you actually are shampooing your hair way more often then you need to.  This is great for shampoo manufactures but bad for your hair and your wallet.  It takes a bit for your scalp to figure out the right amount of oil to produce for your particular hair but once this happens it means that you can go longer between washing your hair.  I used to have to wash my hair everyday (really bad for my dry curly hair) but now, using the shampoo bar, I can easily go four days between washings.

    How to Choose the Right Shampoo Bar:  There are a lot of different shampoo bars out there.  When you are choosing the right one for you check the ingredients.  Look for high quality oils especially coconut and castor oil.  Both of these are really great for you hair.  I’ve tried a lot of shampoo and shampoo bars out there and I really do believe that we make the best.  We use lots of really high quality oils that are great for your hair, plus those oils are infused with calendula petals and rose-hips.  The other reason our shampoo bars are the one to choose is the seaweed.  Our bars have two different types of seaweed in them leading to a healthy scalp, and beautiful hair.  We make two different shampoo bars.  When we first started we only made the Lovely Rita bar, which worked great our our curly dry hair but our straight haired friends (guinea pigs) found that it left their hair oily.  This really comes down to the chemistry of the two different hair types.  Curly hair is craving moisture while straight hair not so much.  Which is why we have two different versions of the Seaweed Shampoo Bar.  The Lovely Rita is designed for those people who have curly hair and we mean curly here.  If you are a conditioner junkie then this is the bar for you.  If your hair is straight, or even wavy try the Sweet Melissa.  If you are not sure which one you should choose try the Sweet Melissa first.  If you find that your hair could take even more moisture then switch to the Lovely Rita.  But remember you need to give your scalp a chance to adjust to the shampoo bar.  I’ve spoken to a lot of people who tried shampoo bars and then abandoned them after the first wash because their hair felt different.  If they had waited a week or two they would have been hooked!!

    Shampoo bars are great for island gals since you use less water and can use them in rivers and streams. Also super wonderful for traveling!!

    Plastic Free July

    Plastic Free July

    This month- there is a world wide movement- Plastic Free July with the goal of raising awareness and challenging people to do something about single use plastic.  Single use plastic is plastic that is essentially used one time and then discarded.  Straws, coffee cups, lids, take out containers.  Basically anything that is convenient, quick and saves time. 

    It's not that plastics are inherently evil.  The Plastic Free July organization has a really interesting perspective on plastics- "Plastics were developed in the early 20th century and were environmentally important, replacing ivory, tortoiseshell, horn and other plant and animal products. By the 1960's plastic had gone from being used in durable items to widespread use including disposable plastic packaging."  When you think about all the plant and animal products that have been saved you realize plastics have a place in our society and often especially with medicine and agriculture the benefits of plastic can make life better.  

    The problem is we have too much of a good thing.  We are simply using way, way, way too much plastic- it's everywhere and it's created a host of problems.  "Everypiece of plastic ever produced still remains somewhere in the earth today. In the last half of the 20th century over 1 billion tons of plastic was produced. This figure has already doubled in the first ten years of this century."  One of the biggest culprits is single use plastic, in the USA over 500 million straws are used daily.  

    And while many people recycle household plastic, single use plastic is the least likely to be recycled.  We tend to use these plastic products at events, concerts and while traveling.  Often our recycled plastic is sent to a developing country where we can't see it but it's still there.  There may also be health issues related to plastic especially with food stored or cooked in plastic.  And finally just the trash that is filling our land and oceans.  Plastic pollution in the oceans affects all sea creatures.  According to the Ocean Conservancy the biggest source of ocean pollution is plastic beverage containers.  They break down into smaller and smaller pieces and are often mistaken for food by hungry animals.  

    The best way to get started on your Plastic Free Journey is to visit Plastic Free July and take the Pesky Plastic Quiz.  Answering the questions will give you a great starting place to make a change in your life.  I guarantee once you get started you won't look back.  

    Resources to get you started- 

    From the Plastic Free Mermaid a free downloaded e-book Plastic Free July Guidebook

    Another resource from Treading My Own Path has Enough is Enough- 18 Ideas for Embracing a Life With Less Waste and Less Stuff.  She also writes great blogs with practical tips, her latest is How to Buy Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Without Plastic

    Follow Australian writer and activist Anita Horn on Facebook, her page is devoted to Plastic Free Produce.  It's an easy one to start because many of our fruits and vegetables are beautifully packaged by Mother Nature.

    Zero Waste Alcohol- Oh Yeah!

    Zero Waste Alcohol- Oh Yeah!

    If your idea of a good time is sitting outside listening to the birds chirp and watching your garden grow while sipping a fruity, boozy drink then infused vodkas are for you.

    I first read about infusing vodkas in the cookbook "How to Be a Domestic Goddess" by Nigella Lawson.  Her rhubarb schnapps recipe caught my eye.  Living in Maine rhubarb is one of the first things to pop up in the garden and this was a new way to preserve it.

    I've been tinkering with infused vodkas ever since.  I tend to focus on seasonal fruits but my Finnish friend told me wonderful stories about herbal infused vodkas that pair beautifully with fish.

    Perserve fresh, seasonal fruits in vodka for delightful sipping.

    You need three simple ingredients- fruit, sugar and vodka.

    Fruit infused vodka needs only 3 ingredients- fruit, sugar and vodka.


     Plus big glass jars.  I don't recommend plastic.  The easiest jars to repurpose usually contained a vinegar based product so wash quite a few times.  Otherwise you'll end up with this slightly vinegar note that is so disappointing.  

    It's a bit of a balancing act and a mystery how much sugar to add.  If you are super serious about the process- keep notes but remember you are working with natural ingredients and there will always be variation due to weather and growing conditions.  In general, I use more sugar because my favorite way to enjoy is to sip from a glass filled with vodka, a slice of citrus and lots and lots of ice.  I found if I skimped on the sugar it has a raw taste.  If the infusion is too sweet I can tone it down by adding seltzer, juice or water to dilute.

    Strawberry Rhubarb Liquor

    1 lb rhubarb chopped and 1 cup sugar

    1 lb strawberries  and 1/2 cup sugar

    Combine fruit and sugar in a large bowl and mix to coat fruit evenly with sugar.  Put in glass jar, fill with vodka.  Shake.  Store in cool, dark cupboard for at least 6 weeks.  Strain into a pitcher and pour into a fancy bottle.  Viola- perfect holiday gifts and what a treat it is to sip summer fruit on a snowy winter's night.

    Capture summer by infusing vodka with seasonal fruits.

    If you keep vodka and sugar on hand you are ready for whatever is in season is in season. You don't have to make big batches, have fun experimenting with flavors and combinations in small jars.  

    And finally the trash- I composed my rhubarb and strawberry bits, the strawberry baskets I'll see if my local farm can reuse them first or  compost or recycle.  The vodka bottle can be returned for my bottle deposit and the sugar bag will get recycled.  That's not to bad for waste.

    Happy infusing!  I'd love to hear about your adventures and combinations.

    Protect Our Oceans Every Day- Simple Tips to Reduce Plastic Consumption

    Protect Our Oceans Every Day- Simple Tips to Reduce Plastic Consumption

    World Ocean Day 2016 was when I moved from awareness to activism both personally and in business.  Thanks to a FaceBook post by the Lonely Whale Foundation.  It was the handsome face of Adrian Grenier who played Vince on the TV show Entourage that caught my eye.  Of course, there is always that disconnect between a favorite character on a TV show and the actual actor.  In Entourage, Grenier plays an up and coming celebrity who definitely buys into the consumption lifestyle.  It was a pleasant surprise to see him talking about plastic straws  and his passion for the ocean.

    Single use plastic is trashing our oceans

    The truth is our oceans are being polluted with needless plastic.  This includes water bottles, straws, plastic bags, drink cups, coffee lids and balloons.  Everyday items that most of us don't think about using.  The problem with plastic compared to other materials is it really never goes away.  It just keeps breaking down into tiny, little pieces.  Often these pieces look like a tasty morsel to a jellyfish, turtle or seabird.  That's the problem our planet is facing.

    A few simple steps can make a difference.  

    Stop drinking water from plastic bottles- Invest in a reusable water bottle and use it. For more info check out Ban the Bottle

    Refillable water, coffee and drink cups are the way to go. 

    Say "NO" to plastic straws.  We use  500 million straws daily in the USA.  Companies now make stainless steel or bamboo straws both washable and reusable.  Checkout the Strawless Ocean for more plastic straw data. 

    Purchase a refillable coffee cup- You can use a refillable cup anywhere, this includes independent coffee shops, gas station quick shops and even big franchises including Dunkin donuts and Starbucks.  Even the Starbucks in the busy Kennebunk Rest Stop will make whatever yummy coffee drink you want in your refillable mug.

    Skip the lid- if you have to use a single use coffee cup don't use the lid, it's one less piece of unnecessary trash.

    Celebrate naturally- The problem with balloons is the bits and pieces often look like food for hungry critters and the strings often entangle and even kill wildlife.  Our joyous celebrations shouldn't harm wildlife or pollute our planet.  The organization Balloons Blow has over 20 environmentally friendly alternatives to balloons.  My favorites are bubbles and ribbon streamers.  

    I know how hard it can be to make changes.   Sipping from a straw is something we don't think about- you have to make a conscious effort and expect to fail at times.  One of the best ways to move from awareness to activism is to pick up trash.  Next time you are out for a walk or hike, notice what trash is around.  Chances are it's water bottles, fast food cups, lids and straws and other types of connivence foods.  It's actually shocking.  And document your find by taking a picture and posting it with Just Grab Bits and you'll be entered to win cool, eco-friendly prizes including our own plastic free Dulse & Rugosa shampoo bars.

    Start your zero waste journey today- small steps lead to big changes.



    Spring in Maine (Finally)

    Spring in Maine (Finally)

    Here in Maine, spring is sometimes really late coming.  For months now my Facebook feed has been full of flowers and green grass from my friends further south.  But after a week of rain, the sun finally came out and it feels like spring has arrived.  The first daffodils have unfolded, the forsythia is blooming, and the symphony of lawnmowers and chainsaws has begun.

    For us, the promise of spring started months and months ago, back when there were still snow drifts on the ground. We grow all the botanicals, flowers and herbs that go into our products but we also grow most of the veggies that we eat all season long and through the winter.  Back in February the first seeds were sown for this summer’s harvest.  Three trays of onions that steadily grew and grew as the days got longer and longer.  Four weeks ago we moved them to the outside greenhouse to make room for the trays of flowers, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs.  Our living room is filled with green, busting at the seams, as the plants grow.  In a few short weeks, once we are sure that the nighttime frost will not return, they will be carefully placed outside and the hard work of summer will begin.

    Seedlings ready to be transplanted

    This weekend we celebrated spring by transplanting or potting up the majority of our vegetables and flowers.  We cleared off the picnic table, mixed batches and batches of potting soil and rooted through the shed to find the right size pots for our precious babies.  As we worked together the barbecue was going in the background with the promise of an amazing dinner once the work was done.  One person worked, gently uprooting the small plant, while the other prepared its new home.  Once the plant was snugly tucked into its new abode we gently watered them before bringing them back inside.  Its still too cold here in Maine for some of tender plants that we grow to live outside…just yet.

    It’s a labor of love to grow these plants from seed all the way through till the end.  It would be much easier to just buy the tomatoes, the onions, the lavender, the thyme.  But that is not what we believe in here at Dulse & Rugosa.  We know that the tomatoes that you grow will taste better than any other.  In the depths of winter when we reach into the root cellar and pull out our onions, potatoes, and squash something magical happens.  Even though its winter a glimmer of summer shows through.  The same magic happens each time I go to make our shower shots or our seaweed shampoo bars.  I open the glass jar filled with rugosa rose petals and I am back on Gotts Island, next to the ocean reaching for the petals, avoiding the thorns, and breathing in the heavy scents of roses, salt, and the summer sun.

    Harvest of plenty  

    There is a magic in growing plants.  And each spring as the small, hard, dry seeds magically turn into bountiful flowers, succulent fruits and verdant vegetables I am reminded of how lucky I am to a part of this process.  I cherish spring for its power, magic and most of all the return of GREEN.  Spring has finally sprung here in Maine and we are sooo excited. 

    Calendula Flower