Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Valley of the Gods" is cured up and back in stock. Also, we purchased a few new essential oils to play around with. The results are fabulous with 2 new temporary bars to enjoy. With any temporary bar they potentially can become a permanent part of the soap line depending on feedback.

One bar "Heaven Scent" is scented primarily with palmarosa and niaouli. The second "Spiced Coffee" is a coffee scrub bar with vetiver being the main aroma that pulls through. We just finished making a new batch of Cinnamon Orange lip balms in the new packaging. The essential oils were boosted slightly as well, based on feedback.

Have a great week everyone!

"Heaven Scent"

"Spiced Coffee"

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Our son's birthday is today. Like last year we made a soap as one of his gifts. Also there is only one bar left of our daughter's birthday soap "Lemon Sprinkles!" Link and description below. So far the money has gone to good things. Savings, hamsters and accessories, birthday gifts for others, and a few snacks.

This is our son's second birthday soap "Adventure Thyme!" The last one was "Earthen Son" and well received. Both were developed and named by our son for his birthday. 100% of the profits earned by the sales of this bar will go to our son for spending money and savings. He decided the color, which is black walnut hull, french green clay, moringa and nettle, giving it a deep color with medium exfoliation. This scent has strong herbal and earthy aromas including white thyme, sweet basil, rosemary. It's a great bar to start or end the adventures of your day! Adventure Thyme!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Online our "Earthen Dream" and "Neither is the Man Without the Woman" are $2.00 off for black Friday. We slightly increased the essential oils in "Neither is the Man Without the Woman" in this fresh batch. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

With feedback from our customers we realized the slider lip balm tins were lacking.  They slowly accumulate lint and small debris when you have them in your purse or pocket.  We put a 50% sale up while we figured out a solution.  The "Naked" lip balm sold out, and "Spearmint" is almost gone.  We made a fresh batch in new round tins, the lids are much more secure!

"Naked" lip balm is available now in the new round tins.  They also hold a bit more, so you'll get more for your money.  They have gone from 0.25 oz to 0.4oz.  We'll keep the price the same.  Once the other discounted lip balms sell out we'll quickly replace them with the new round tins.  The pictures will be updated as soon as possible.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Adventure Time! If anyone has seen the cartoon you will understand these costumes a bit more. These were all handmade by the lovely Lara (Marceline in the pictures). They turned out so great we won 1st prize at the Colebrook Halloween costume contest (group category). It was a good time, and the kids had a blast.
We'll have some fun soap announcements at the end of this month or beginning of next. We have been very busy with Earthen Step and life. Hope everyone is doing fantastic!
Here is a reference picture of the cartoon for those who haven't seen it.…/2…/03/adventure-time-adventure.jpg

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mushroom Cultivation Basics

Last night I did a mushroom cultivation presentation.  It was for the "Small and Beginner Farmers of New Hampshire" group up in Colebrook.  I wanted to share the info presented here for anyone interested.  As I told the group, I'm not an expert.  But, I have studied mushrooms for some time now and I think what I put together is a good starting point.  References with links at the bottom.

Mushroom Life Cycle

Spore > Spore Germination > Hyphae (spore growth) >  Mycelium (2 types (+ / -) of Hyphae compatible with each other bind and grow into the Mycelium network) >  Fruitbody Development (pinheads) > Mushroom Growth and Spore release

Types of mushroom fungus 

Saprophytes - eats dead material (this is the major cultivation group)
Symbiont/mycorrhizal - symbiotic relationship, usually with tree roots and soil microbes (truffle and chanterelle are a prime examples)
Parasitic - eating up a living host (the chaga fungus)

Outdoor Production

Log Inoculation: 

  • Fresh logs 3-8" diameter 3-4 ft long.  
  • Ideal tree harvest is early spring before the leaves start growing (extra sugars from the roots will start filling the log).  Logs from dormant trees will need an 8-24 hour soak to re-hydrate -- live trees will be fully hydrated to begin with, unless they sat around for some weeks)
  • Cut tree to size within 6 weeks
  • Inoculate logs within 3 weeks after cutting to size with plug (2 types of plug, dowels or loose spawn)
  • Cover plug wound with wax (cheese, bees, soy)
  • Tag the log to keep track of date/strain
  • Stacked logs
  • Log cabin stack or slanted up towards a beam/cable
  • Covering with burlap can help retain moisture but increase contamination risk.
  • Submerge the logs in water for 8 hours if the log gets too dry (every 2-3 week).  45-60% humidity is ideal.
  • Water with a sprinkler or hose during the driest months to keep moisture content up.
  • Allow the Bark to dry between soakings.  The bark staying moist will help break it down and increase disease risk.
  • Letting the logs get too dry is the #1 cause of failure.
  • Once you start getting mushrooms you can begin force fruiting.  Once the flush is over, allow the mycelium to store up more energy for 6-8 weeks and then give a 8-12 hour soak (simulating spring).  This should begin a fruiting cycle for a new harvest as long as temps are good for that strain.
Some strains:
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Brat Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus)
Phoenix Oyster (Pleurotus pulmonaris) *can grow on conifers
Maitake/Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa)
Black Poplar (Agrocybe aegerita) *grows on poplar
Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) **Ganoderma lucidum will not grow this far north - tsugae will grow on eastern hemlock.
Conifer Coral (Hericium abietis) *Grows on pine
Nameko (Pholiota nameko) *Lay directly on the ground *fall only fruiter -popular in Japan in soups, supposed to have great taste and texture
Elm Oyster (Hypsizgus ulmarius)

1/3 buried log / stump

Only use aggressive strains, less watering is needed due to ground absorption

Some strains:
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Cauliflower (Sparassis crispa) *can grow on conifers
Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) **Ganoderma lucidum will not grow this far north - tsugae will grow on eastern hemlock.
Nameko (Pholiota nameko) *Lay directly on the ground *fall only fruiter -popular in Japan in soups, supposed to have great taste and texture
Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Elm Oyster (Hypsizgus ulmarius)
Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) *Hardwood
Conifer Coral (Hericium abietis) *Grows on pine
Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula)

Fully buried log bed

Let the log incubate for 3-4 months before bury.  Halfway bury the log and cover with 2" or so of mulch for water retention.

Some strains:
Nameko (Pholiota nameko) *Lay directly on the ground *fall only fruiter -popular in Japan in soups, supposed to have great taste and texture
Black Poplar (Agrocybe aegerita) *grows on poplar
Brick Top
Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) **Ganoderma lucidum will not grow this far north - tsugae will grow on eastern hemlock.
Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula)

Wood Chip / Compost Cultivation 

Share the log frame layered bed idea - cardboard as the first layer.

Some Strains:
Wine Cap - King Stropharia (hardwood chips)
Blewit (hardwood leaves/manure compost)
King Oyster (hardwood chips)
Lepiota (hardwood sawdust/lawn clippings)
Almond Portabella (aged manure and sawdust)
Wood Ear (Auricularia auricula)

Indoor Production


  • Wide-mouth canning jars (1/2 pint for example)
  • Vermiculite (sawdust for wood mushrooms)
  • Grain flower (brown rice and rye are common)
  • Water
  • Mixing bowls
  • Paper towels
  • Alcohol & cotton balls
  • 1/8" nail
  • Hammer
  • Masking tape
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Pressure cooker or canning pot
  • Spore or liquid culture syringe
  • Bleach solution (1 bleach to 9 parts water for eqipment, 1/2 cup to 1 gallon for wiping surfaces)
  • Lighter

Grain cakes (PF Tek)

  • 2 part vermiculite or sawdust, 1 grain flour, 1 part water.  Substrate will vary depending on strain of mushroom.
  • Hammer 4 holes in each lid, wipe interior of each jar with alcohol.
  • Mix substrate. 6 cups vermiculite/sawdust, 3 cups water, 3 cups grain flour would fill about 12 pint jars.
  • Fill each jar, leave about 1/2 to 3/4 inch gap at the top.  Fill the remaining gap with vermiculite.  *Don't pack it all down tight.
  • Screw the lids down and place masking tape over the holes. 
  • Cover each jar with aluminum foil.  Steam the jars in a pressure cooker or canning pot.  Follow pressure cooker directions - about 45 minutes at 15 psi.  In a canning pot cook for 90 minutes.
  • Allow the jars to fully cool before inoculation.  If you have a glovebox or flow hood inoculate with the use of those to keep contamination risk minimized.  Mist your work area with bleach solution and clean up with paper towels.  Flame sterilize the needle, then wipe with alcohol swab.  Pull back the tape and inject 1/4 cc of liquid into each hole of each jar, cover the hole after injection.
  • Incubate the jars in a warm dark place.  For most species 75-85 degrees.  Grows will start typically 3-5 days, some species can take longer than a week. Full colonization will usually take 2-3 weeks.  If you have any growth that is not white dispose of the jar.  Never open the jar indoors, you can spread the contamination.
  • Once the jars are colonated (mycelium growth covering the entire cake) they will be ready to soak.  Open the jar and fill it with water and allow it to soak for 24 hours in the refrigerator.  This will give it maximum water for it's next phase.
  • Place the cakes inside your fruiting chamber.  The simplest fruiting chamber would be a bag or jar to contain humidity.  Aquarium style made with glass or plastic bins with a humidifier would be a good step above with airflow and 2 inches of perlite on the bottom.  If you really want larger productions consider shelving surrounded by plastic to keep moisture in or a dedicated room.  Humidity needs to be kept above 90%.  If you have no humidifier set up, mist and fan the substrate/perlite once per day.  Ideal temperatures will vary depending on strain.  They will need some light to trigger growth, typically 12 hour light on 12 off is used.  Indirect sunlight works just fine.  Mushrooms will produce vitamin D while exposed to light. *don't put the cakes directly on the perlite, put it on the jar lid or foil.
  • After they stop growing any mushrooms for a few days you can force another flush.  Rise the cake under cool tap water and rub off any debris.  After this submerge the cakes for 12-24 hours.  Some people will roll the cakes in vermiculite after the dunk.  After they are soaked, put them back in the fruiting chamber.  2-3 flushes is common, getting less production each time.    

The PF Tek method is great for starting, a lot of people have most of the materials sitting around. The next reasonable step up would be using mushroom bags (mycobags) to increase production.  If you are serious about getting started and moving up to medium scale indoor production I highly recommend reading a book or two. "The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms" by Stephen Russell is a great starting point.  For outdoor log production, if you purchase spawn plugs the learning curve is much lower.  You should be fine reading a few articles online.

Websites with good info and/or supplies
Mother-Earth-News (PF-Tek method)
Mushroom-People (Outdoor Log Cultivation)
Mushroom-Company (Monitoring log moisture content)
Mushroom-Mountain (Instructions and supplies)
Aloha-culture-bank (No heat Hydrated Lime substrate sterilization!)
Agrisk (Page 4 has a growing medium to mushroom strain list) (list of tree type to mushroom spawn and supplies) (mushroom plugs and guides) (Mushroom plugs and guides)
Everything-Mushrooms (Mushroom supplies and guides)

Search around, there are many more suppliers.  Make sure you are getting appropriate strains for your climate.

Online PDF books
"Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" by Paul Stamets
"The Mushroom Cultivator" by Paul Stamets and J.S. Chilton

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The latest batch of "Herbal Garden" soap was made a little different. We replaced all of the water with a strong Jewelweed extract. This changed the green to a lighter color. We also strengthened the essential oil blend slightly. It turned out very nice. They are now available online and at the local North Country Marketplace & Salvage.
We also have a laundry soap blend available at the marketplace. We may put it online once we make a bigger batch. It's made with a 100% coconut oil soap with orange and lemongrass essential oils and boosted with washing soda. Each jar is 12-24+ loads of laundry depending on how liberal you are.

Friday, August 7, 2015

We made some wild ferment chokecherry wine last night.  If it turns out good we'll write up how we made it.

Hello everyone! It's been a while since we posted. Just wanted you all to know what we have been working on.

The first batch of "The Great North Woods" soap is down to one bar left (picture below). We haven't put that bar on the website yet, we wanted to test it with locals first. We have had some good feedback and made slight changes with the batch that's curing now. When it's finished we'll put it up on the website. It's an amazing bar and we are very pleased with it. It has the same great base oil configuration as "Valley of the Gods" -- also It is made with Chaga tea and powdered Chaga harvested locally. The essential oils are a blend from plants that grow around here. Maybe someday we'll be able to make some of the essential oils we use.

Our daughters birthday soap is still available. Half of them have sold and she decided to buy some hamsters with the money! They are cute little white things with extremely light tan patterns on them. So far it has been well worth the money, I think it was a good choice. She said it's much better than blowing the money on candy to have two living creatures! Below is a picture she took of the lil guys.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

It's nearing the summer solstice! In anticipation we are putting up some bars for sale.  Right now on our online store "Naked", "Drum Circle", "Herbal Garden", "Morning Tea" are all discounted.
"Lemon Sprinkles" has been very loved by those who have tried it - It's a real gem and a perfect bright refreshing scent for those hot days.  We only have one "Tranquil Rain" left, we may bring it back but it won't be for a while.  We are waiting for some feedback on "The Great North Woods" bar, it's available locally but won't be online till it's finalized.  We'll put up more info when it's finished up and ready to be online.  If you are really eager to try it out let us know; we have a few left.  It's inspired by what grows around us in Northern New Hampshire.
When we have some time we'll get some new pictures on the website.  We are still sporting a picture taken last fall for our main soap page.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Side Note:  We'll try to put up some more tutorials this year.  They are time consuming but a lot of fun!  So far we have been very busy and time is flying.  There are some new things we have been getting into, we just need to remember the camera.  There is some new information we could add to last years tutorials as well -- lessons learned and minor fine tune adjustments.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We celebrated our daughters 8th birthday yesterday! She developed a bar of soap a couple months ago and it's ready to go. All of the profits will go directly to her, it's a fun birthday gift that gets her involved in the family business.
We played around with the base oils to create a very gentle extremely conditioning blend. It has a nice creamy lather with light bubbles. If you have dry skin this one would be high on the list.
The essential oil blend cured out nicely with a mix of Orange, Lemongrass, Tangerine and Litsea. It has a very nice fruity-citrus aroma. Hope you all enjoy it as much as we are! Have a great week!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A new soap is available named "Tranquil Rain." The primary essential oil in this bar is vetiver (ruh khus) also known as the "Oil of Tranquility." India has used sesame seed oil and vetiver for thousands of years to promote well being. Enveloping both of these, this bar promotes healthy, moisturized, and youthful appearing skin.
Stay tuned for next month -- our daughters bar will be unveiled. It's her birthday soap, developed by her. All profits from that bar will go to her. Our son made "Earthen Son" for his birthday, which was loved very much. He thanks you all for your orders and comments!

Monday, March 9, 2015

We have 3 new lip balm flavors ready to go.  All of the essential oils are food grade and certified organic.  100% vegan plant based ingredients made by mother earth.  All of the ingredients are listed below, no hidden flavors, colors or other chemicals.

--New flavors / essential oil blends --
Spearmint: A blend of spearmint with peppermint
Citrus: A blend of lemongrass, orange and basil
Cinnamon: A blend of cinnamon with orange

Ingredients: Virgin Organic Cocoa Butter, Virgin Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Castor Oil, Candelilla Wax, Whole Leaf Stevia, & Essential Oil Blend

Monday, February 2, 2015

Posted on FB

Hello everyone!  We have a new "Bar of the Quarter" curing up right now, it will be named after we use it.  It's made with a couple ingredients we have never used before  -- it was fun and exciting to create.  The main essential oil is Vetiver, a grass in Western and Northern India.  The aroma is deep, dry and earthy with wood and smokey tones.  We used a large good amount of Sesame seed oil and Avocado oil.  I can't wait to use it!

The bar of the quarter may be increased from every 3 months to every 2 months.  It's just too much fun to invent and play, and we have too many ideas.  If you try a new bar and absolutely love it, let us know!  With your feedback it could become a permanent addition.

We will be experimenting with a few new lip balm flavors in the upcoming month.  We hope to expand and have 1-3 new flavors for us all to enjoy.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Body butter is now up on the website with a $1 off intro.  The picture is just a place holder, it will be replaced with something better in the near future.

"Poppy Fields" and "Sin Ye Mon" are both low in stock, thanks for the Christmas purchases!  We are in the middle of a "Poppy Fields" batch today and plan on making "Sin Ye Mon" later this week or next week.

We are getting very low on "Earthen Sun" and those will not be remade  -- if you want to try our sons birthday creation don't wait too long.  All profits from "Earthen Sun" go directly to our son, he is very thankful for everyone who purchased his soap.  It's been a neat experience including him in the business like this.