Happiness Has a New Address – Dulse & Rugosa
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    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

    Save the Internet: Keep it Fair For All

    Save the Internet: Keep it Fair For All

    When we first started Dulse & Rugosa we designed a website that was clunky.  We had no idea that photos were supposed to be sized so that it didn't take forever to load.  One of the many things we learned over the years.  When we would add products to the site we would walk away and make a cup of tea while the page s-l-o-w-l-y loaded.  Needless to say we didn't get very many orders.  If we couldn't stand waiting for our page to load there was no chance that our customers were going to wait around.  It took us awhile to figure out our mistakes and re-do the site.  We learned our lesson.  If your website does not load in a few seconds customers will try somewhere else. Our first few years with our clunky website is the reason why I am so worried about the looming possibility of the elimination of net neutrality.  We know first hand how hard it can be for a small business when your website is part of the slow lane.

      Save Net Neutrality and save a small business

    As the large companies with a traditionally large workforce are mechanizing and employing fewer and fewer, we are seeing the growth and spread of small business in America.  The last few years have seen more small businesses succeeding, growing, and expanding then ever before.  It is because of the internet that this can happen.  You do not need an expensive brick and mortar store front on Main Street in order to sell your wares.  You can live in the middle of the woods, high on a mountain or in rural Maine and sell to people all across the world.  This would not and could not be possible without free and fair access to the internet.  As Blake Irving the CEO of GoDaddy put it, small business’ “depends on the equalizing force of the Internet to level the playing field, giving them access to equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of size or access to capital.”

    There has been a lot of press surrounding this issue, but still not enough in my view.  Many people still don’t understand what net neutrality means.  Basically, net neutrality means that all websites and all content are treated equally.  You can access the Dulse & Rugosa website at the same speed as Loreal, Dove, or Burt’s Bees or any of the plethora of skincare companies.  If this ruling is overturned the internet will be turned into a two tier system.  Those companies who can afford to pay the ISP’s (internet service providers; think Comcast, Time Warner…) will have content that will load quickly.  Websites that can not pay will have slower access speeds.  If your business or website relies on videos be prepared to pay a whole lot more for costumers to access your content.  Basically, ISP’s will be able to “negotiate priority agreements with bigger companies; because of this there will be no incentive to supply or support smaller companies.” (Blake Irving again). If you love being able to support small business, learn about and explore a host of new smaller companies, then be prepared to make a cup of tea each time a website loads.

    Waiting for a website to load


    Trump, Spicer, and Ajit Pai (the head of the FCC) have repeatedly come out against net neutrality.  To many the passing of Senate Joint Resolution 34 (the one where our browsing history can be sold to the highest bidder) was the first nail in the coffin for net neutrality.  More and more we are seeing that if you have money, then all is well, but for those of us who don't have much to spare the future is looking bleak.  The bright spot on the horizon is that small businesses are united for net neutrality.  1.1 million comments were submitted to the FCC about the issue, many of which were from small businesses.  No small business commented in favor of the end of net neutrality.  This issue unites us.  Business owners from across the country wrote in.  Democrats and republicans.  Urban and Rural.  Man and Women.  Young and Old.  We all said that without net neutrality our businesses will fail.   Here is great example of one of the many FCC comments.  This one from a small business owner from Santa Barbara, CA. “My small business depends entirely on Internet affordability.  The Internet is seemingly the only place left in the world where people other than the already rich can participate in a meaningful way. Please don't allow a situation that will make it possible for mega-companies to have dominion over everyone else. The Internet is all about equality and fairness. Let's keep it that way.”  The sweat, blood, and tears that we have invested; the customers we have nurtured, will not be able to access our products solely because we can’t/won’t pay the ISPs.

    Please, please, please, I am begging you go to the FCC web-page (which loads just as fast as the Dulse & Rugosa page thanks to net neutrality) and leave a comment.  Call your senators, your congressmen and tell them that you stand for net neutrality.  Go to town hall meetings, make your voice heard.  Net neutrality affects us all but it will disproportionately hurt small business owners.  I’m sure you have a friend, a neighbor, a family member that runs a small business and relies on net neutrality to succeed.  Speak out and save neutrality.

    Make Your Voice Heard

     

    Zero Waste Mother's Day Gifts

    Zero Waste Mother's Day Gifts

    When you have a small business, you tend to think about holidays and when you make skincare, Mother's Day is a great holiday.  You hope people want to buy something special for their "mother".  And by "mother" I mean anyone who has nurtured, mentored and cared for you, perhaps even giving birth to you.  But there is also the "BIG MAMA" to consider- our beautiful and fragile planet.  It's possible to show your love and affection to your special moms while treading lightly on our planet.

    When you're thinking about zero waste gifts for mom, it's important to think about what your mom likes, enjoys and considers a special treat.  If at all possible, give the gift of you.  A lunch, coffee or walk together is the perfect gift for someone you love.

    Give the Gift of an Experience-  I recently had a super crummy day and it was also super crummy weather, I took myself to the matinee and watched Emma Watson as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.  It was the perfect relaxing mood enhancer that I needed to get myself going again.  Alone in the dark with popcorn and my legs stretched out in a double date seat.  

    Give the Gift of Local or Farm- When you shop local more money is kept in your community- it's an easy way to support your neighbors.  I've written a blog "Become a BFF to Small Businesses"  with lots of tips on how to be a supporter of small, local and indie businesses.  I saw a recent social media post from a local flower farm offering gift certificates for bouquets- what mom wouldn't love that.  Feel free to ask your favorite farmer for a gift certificate- they will be happy to make one up for you.

    Give the Gift of Art- the Arts are fundamental to our humanity and fosters goodness, creativity and beauty- all qualities of our beloved moms.  Enjoy a concert, open mic night, gallery walk or visit an artist studio.

     

    Give the Gift of Food- Make something delicious yourself, buy from a local food shop or enjoy a meal in a restaurant but nothing brings out the love like a good tasty food.

    And finally Give to a Cause-  You know what is important to your mama, support the organizations that she supports. Now more than ever standing up for love and kindness is so important.

    Give the Gift of Service- Every day I walk and I pick up trash but especially on holidays I try to making cleaning up my environment a priority.  Get out, pick up some trash in honor of your mom and Mother Nature.

     

     

    Herbal Hair Vinegars- and a DIY Recipe

    Herbal Hair Vinegars- and a DIY Recipe

    An Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse is a great addition to your natural hair care routine.  Rinsing with ACV is super nice when you are making the transition to shampoo bars because it helps to keep your hair at the proper pH level.

    Herbal Vinegar

     There are lots of benefits of rinsing with ACV including-

      • less tangles, less frizz because an ACV helps smooth the cuticle.  Think of the cuticle as the outer layer of your hair, sort of like bark on a tree.
      • more shine because if your cuticle is smooth it lies flat which increases shine.
      • helps clarify and reduce build up.
      • adds bounce without weight.
      • ACV rinse is a tonic for your hair with nutrients that help stimulate hair growth.
      • full of natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties which can help soothe an itchy, flakey scalp.
      • balances the pH of your hair especially with shampoo bars.

     If you've been using one type of hair product because you love how it works and then after a period of time notice a difference an ACV rinse can help clarify and remove product build up.  

    It's easy to make your own Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse.  In general, you can use any type of vinegar but apple cider vinegar is the popular choice.  A natural unprocessed vinegar will give you the "mother"- full of bacteria, nutrients and enzymes.  The next step is to dilute the vinegar with water.  How much depends on your hair type, in general 1/4 to 1/2 vinegar to water.  Add the appropriate amount of vinegar to a spray bottle and then fill with water.  You can boil your water first, add tap water or purchase distilled water.  

    To make your vinegar extra special add herbs.  There are many herbs which are beneficial to your hair.  Our favorites include rose petals, rosemary, chamomile and calendula petals.  Pour your vinegar into a glass jar add your herbs, fresh or dried.  Place in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking and admiring occasionally.  Strain to remove all the herb bits and pour back into your clean glass jar.  Remember to dilute before use.  

    It's fun and relatively easy to make your own ACV hair rinse and it's a great way to use garden herbs.  But for busy folks who want a high quality natural hair rinse filled with our own Maine island flowers try our handcrafted Herbal Vinegar.

    And remember always be a Goldilocks and experiment to find the right combination for your unique hair.

    Earth Day- the More You Know

    Earth Day- the More You Know

     

     

    This quote sure rings true as Earth Day approaches.  In this blog I'd like to introduce you to some of my favorite non-profits who have helped and inspired me to move forward on my Zero Waste and plastic free journey.  In case you are wondering- plastic free is all about limiting your use of plastic to essentials and eliminating single use plastic.  Single use plastic is plastic that is used once and then discarded- straws, coffee cups, drink lids, water bottles, grocery bags……….  Zero waste is a philosophy that focuses on rethinking how we live in order to produce as little waste as possible.

    And now here are some of my favorite hard working groups.  First, for a trashy tour around the world check out Grabbits.  At Just Grab Bits you are encouraged to do four simple acts-

    1. Pick It- pick up some trash on your next walk wherever you happen to be, from the sidewalk, nature trail, dog park, playground, beach..... 
    2. Snap It- take a picture of your trash.
    3. Bin It- get that trash to its proper home.
    4. Tag It- enter your trash into their trash picking contests by using #JustGrabBits

    Just Grab Bits actually has lots of different categories to enter.  "Find It, Fill It" is finding a found object, bag, glove, boot and filling it with nearby trash.  "Helping Handful" is a shot of your hand full of the trash you just saved.  "Scenic Bits" is the beauty of the world along with some un-beautiful trash and the another category is "Trash Monster" where your trash turns into a monster.  There are quite a few fun, quirky categories so pick one that inspires you.  

    The cool thing which really helps expand your understanding of trash is entries are from around the globe.  I've seen trash shots from Australia, South Africa, Scotland and of course the USA.  Each month all the entries are entered into a prize spin and three lucky winners are rewarded with cool, sustainable gifts including art work, bamboo straws, and our own Rambling Man bars.  It's heartening to see folks from everywhere looking after the Earth.  The folks at Just Grab Bits, "realize picking up will never be the upstream solution, it is however necessary."  So "pickitup" and follow them on Instagram @justgrabbits.

    My next organization is Balloons Blow- Don't Let Them Go.  This non-profit is dedicated to providing information about the destructive nature of balloons, including biodegradable ones.  Beach litter surveys have shown that balloon trash has tripled over the past ten years.  And if you think about it, a deflated and tattered balloon looks very similar to a tasty morsel to a sea critter and many animals have been found with balloon bits in their stomachs.  At Balloons Blow they believe, "Education is the key in the fight for the planet, on this issue and all environmental issues. People need to know that by using science we can make informed, non-biased decisions."   Their Instagram site is @balloonsblow 

    And finally, The Last Plastic Straw.  In the US we use enough plastic straws to wrap around the Earth's circumference 2.5 times a day.  That's a lot of straw sipping.  They have a straw challenge for restaurants and bars to provide straws upon request.  I've yet to see a restaurant with "Straws available upon request" printed on their menu but it's a great and easy way to educate.  I struggle when traveling to remember to say, "No straw, please" and often a straw is simply placed in your drink without giving you the choice of refusal.  Their restaurant guide is super helpful and you can find them on Instagram @noplasticstraws.

    What's your favorite Earth educating site?