Archive for September, 2008

Handmade Coffee Soap

My handmade coffee soap finished curing today (after 3 weeks). Some soapers wait at least 4 to 6 weeks before they use it, but some say 2 to 3 weeks is OK. I figure somewhere in the middle, which is 3 weeks is best. So today I washed my hands with them and they are great, lots of nice bubbles and a very soft smell of fresh brewed coffee.

I plan on using it as a “kitchen sink” soap. Coffee is great with removing odor from your hands. Especially after handling garlic, fish, or other annoying stinks. Here is a picture of my soaps. I think the wavy lines make them look very pretty too.

Caffeine has been appearing a lot among many beauty products these days. Caffeine has been known to help smooth the skin and detoxify its surface from the daily exposure of pollution. An article from BBC mentioned that caffeine can also help fight skin cancer, you can read more about it here.

The recipe includes: Safflower oil, Palm oil, Soybean oil, Avocado oil, Olive oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Distilled Water, Instant coffee powder, fresh ground coffee, and peppermint oil.

If you would like to purchase some great handmade soaps and more, please visit If you like to puchase my handmade soap, please visit Cambree’s Etsy here. I sold 3 bars on Ebay and the rest will be given away as Christmas gifts.


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Handmade Charcoal Soap

This is the first charcoal soap I’ve made since I began my soap obsession. It contains palm oil, soybean oil, extra virgin olive oil, and castor oil – of course a dose of activated charcoal too. I decided not to put any frangrance or essential oils since I wanted a really pure facial bar. I figure it would be less harsh on the face. But thinking back, I could use a bit of peppermint or tea tree to hide the “nutty” smell of castor.

With this recipe, I decided to leave out coconut oil. And I think it’s looking very good. Coconut tends to make my other soap bars much harder. The palm oil does help it harden a bit better here too. The soybean & olive oils are both moisturizing for the skin. The castor oil also nourishes the skin, but the best part for me is that it helps with the removal of blackheads. The castor oil makes more of a soft bar. But it will harden up the longer it cures. And the super ingredient is the activated charcoal, helps to detox your skin and remove impurities.

Continue to read more of this post here.

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Wild Hibiscus Flower in Syrup

I want one of these for my next celebration… whether it’s with champagne or seltzer water, the flower will begin to bloom when introduced to any bubbly liquid. This also reminded me of those flowering teas, but much more exciting to look at and you can eat the flowers too. This flower look so alive and colorful, almost too pretty to be eaten. Wow, this is such a great idea!

A description from The Wild Hibiscus Company:

“Wild Hibiscus Flowers have a sweet raspberry rhubarb flavor although they offer much more than just flavor.

The texture of the flower is firm but pliant, delicious on the palate at the end of a glass of bubbly. The flower and the syrup are delicately sweet so you can control the effect on the flavor of the Champagne by how much syrup you put in. The flowers are best served as a garnish in Champagne or a good Sparkling wine. Place a whole Hibiscus Flower in the bottom of a Champagne flute, pour some of the Crimson Syrup in on top and then fill up with Champagne! The spectacular, crown shaped flower sits in the bottom of the flute with all the bubbles streaming off and opening up the flower. The Champagne graduates from crimson at the bottom to light pink at the top.”

Continue reading about Wild Hibiscus Flower at Cambree Notes here.

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I love Bon Ami

Last year while I was shopping at the local PW Market (in the bay area), I saw this bright yellow cleaning container that had a picture of a cute chick that read “Bon Ami”. The French name and the cute chick already caught my attention. So I picked it up and read more about it from the labels. To my surprise, it is one of the most environmentally safe cleaning product around. Bon Ami could be considered less harmful to the environment than other cleaners because it did not use phosphates, chlorine, perfume or dyes in its formula. It also cleans surfaces without scratching. Notice the use of the little chicks. As chicks do not scartch for food during their first few days of hatching.

When I was growing up, my mom used only Ajax or Comet for cleaning. I suppose her friend introduced her to this brand and it worked well for her. So I was not familiar with Bon Ami. Plus those other brands were easy to find, usually at your grocery store or Target.

Bon Ami has been around for 120 years. The history behind Bon Ami is very interesting. The company starting manufacaturing the product around 1886. Here is a little excerpt from the company’s website,

Feldspar was discarded from a quartz mine, until someone suggested that this soft mineral might be combined with soap to create a less abrasive product to clean hard surfaces without scratching them. This appealed to Scotsman Robertson’s thriftiness. Robertson formed his venture and began operations in an unused grist mill located on property owned by Gurdon Hicks Childs. The feldspar was ground to a fine powder, mixed with liquid soap in wooden troughs, cured and cut into cakes, imprinted with the Bon Ami name, wrapped and packed in quarter-gross boxes for market.

Continue reading here.

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Skincare: Part II

In the past couple of years I have become much more interested in taking good care of my skin. Especially the skin on my face. I have been blessed with good skin and want to keep it that way. As I am now settling into a new decade, I have found these little freckles on my face becoming more apparent. I have spent my early 20’s hanging out at the beach without much care for my face or skin. But I am lucky, my face isn’t showing much sign of distress or wrinkles (yet). Possibly since I don’t smoke, drink (unless it’s a celebration), and try to eat right and exercise too.

I have read tons of books on skincare and am learning more about the special ingredients used to help fight these blemishes. Milady’s publishes a good book with the list of ingredients and all their benefits/concerns. Some of these natural ingredients that help fight freckles include, mulberry extract, licorice root extract, tamarind fruit extract, aloe vera gel, and rice bran oil. And of course you can also put yogurt or rub a slice of lemon on your face. The lactic acid from the yogurt with gently help fade the freckles. And the citric acid from the lemon will do the same. Many fruits also contain natural AHA’s ( alpha hydroxy) to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and signs of aging. The fruits include grapes, apples, and watermelon.

Mulberry fruit photo from Ladd Arboretum & Ecology Center. “ It is named for the color of its buds, rather than the color of its fruit.” That answers my question as I notice the berries start off white/greenish and then ripen to red, and finally deep purple. Mulberries are one of my favorite trees.

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Google Map

How cool is Google map… now they have street view too? I thought this was really neat. Good way to check up on those front lawns. I wonder if it’s time to mow them or maybe bring out the goats to help trim it a bit.

Here is a little clip of the streets of SF Bay area. On a clear day you can see the green mountains in northbound going towards San Francisco. Here’s an image of a lost guy here.

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Goats are Great

The first time I ever saw a goat was at the SF Zoo, the petting zoo actually. They are really cute and funny animals. The kids love to be around them and they are great with the kids too. M is better with animals than me, so he had lots of fun brushing the coat. I just stood there watching, until I decided to see for myself. Their fur is not very soft, definitely not like a cat, but much more tougher… maybe more like a Pot Belly pig.

The latest news I have to share about how great goats are come out of Washington state. Goats do a great job of clearing up land that has been taken over by unwanted shrubs and vines. They can eat up blackberry bushes (thorns too) with no problems at all! This popular method of clearing up land with goats grew out of southern California. It began as a great way to clear the foothills to prevent wildfires. Now that people are more interested in “green living”, the idea of using goats are becoming more popular. The benefits of using goats really out weight the use of machines or manual labor.

In Bellevue, Washington goats were used to clear out a steep quarter-acre lot. It took four days and 60 goats to chew throught the blackberry vines and Scotch broom. Even local gardeners jump in by hauling away the goat droppings to use as fertilizers – all free and organic. The contractors saved about $6000 to $9000 by using the goats. You can read more about it at The goats go for hire at about $450 a day for the goats, a $250 transportation fee and extra for setting up their fencing. I will have to remember to hire the goats if there are ever some clearings to be done.

But the neatest thing about goats is that they have the best milk around. Very nutritious. People who are lactose intolerate can still consume goat milk. And soap made with goat’s milk are the best. Leaves you feeling very pampered. I think someday I would consider having a few herd of goats too. Maybe in about five years time. First I have to get over the fact that animals just smell funny!

Photo from Pictured above is some of Craig Madsen’s 270 rented goats. I love how the goat is thinking, “Don’t bother me, I’m trying to enjoy these vines.”

Note: Goats are also great at getting rid of kudzu vines in the Southeastern U.S.  Read more about kudzu from my other post here.

The best way to get rid of kudzu without herbicide is to bring in some goats and llamas to eat them up. The story comes from Chantanooga, Tennesse newspaper. The goats eat the lower vines, while the llamas and it’s long neck can reach for the higher vines. The llamas are also great for protecting the goats from predators. Llamas have claws on their hooves for extra protection. Betsy Bramlett writes, “In the fall, the goats ate mature kudzu leaves and swept the area clean. This time around, they’re charged with “nipping the kudzu in the bud” as new shoots emerge.” I think these goats and llamas will be one healthy herd.

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