As I move deeper into the world of plant based bath and body products, I am continually inspired to produce the freshest products…closest to the earth. Jeanne Rose had always talked of her Calendula Oil production and how important it was to make it from fresh not dried flowers. There is more medicine in the fresh flowers….it just took more time to produce because you have to get the water completely out. Always excited about a challenge, I called the Sonoma Herb Exchange to see when I could get my first batch of fresh flowers. They thought it would take weeks but one Tuesday as I was preparing to take Emily shopping, I got the call. They had 8 lbs of flowers that had just come in from a local farm in Sonoma. Luckily the farm wasn’t too far from shopping so I dropped Em off and sped off to pick up my first batch of flowers….
As I walked into the old barn, I was taken back by the beauty of the 8lbs of calendula flowers that were awaiting my arrival.
They were beginning to sweat a little so I turned up the air conditioning in the car..rushed back to pick up Emily…and then headed home to our production facility. The flowers needed to rest for 24 hours so they could lose a little water…but not too long as we didn’t want them to begin to dry out. I spread them carefully on linen cloths and was in awe of the radiance and energy of each individual flower. I said a prayer of gratitude and asked the flowers to forgive any of my blunders along the way as it was my first time.
The next morning, July 4th, I woke up with great anticipation. I met Steph at the warehouse and we gathered all of our ingredients to begin the production. We gently lifted the flowers and transported them on the linen into my truck. We pumped 10 gallons of our organic Napa Valley extra virgin olive oil and other tools that we would need.
Jeanne Rose has taught me the importance of measurements and taking good notes. Luckily I had her on speed dial so she could coach me along the way…there was no literature to be found anywhere on production as most people use dried flowers so without Jeanne this would not have been possible. I measured the flowers and put them in their stainless steel pots…one 2 gallon and one 5 gallon.
I measured and added our extra virgin olive oil and turned on the heat.
It was two days of production…heating, taking off condensation from lids, cooling. Jeanne was right…this was not a task for the light hearted. I was a little nervous to make the call that it was done so Jeanne drove up to check my work. After more instruction and several more hours, she declared it done. We then strained the flowers and oils through a press…careful not to press the flowers too much…and voila….our oil! I let it settle for two days and then bottled off the top to leave any sediment behind.
More to come……
Remember the story of the little lavender store in the South of France? I had no idea it would materialize as it has in the past nine months but I am very proud to announce, not only the launch of our new website, but the opening of our first Napa Valley Bath Co. retail location in St. Helena! I’ve been busy studying and creating and I’m SO excited to share all of our nourishing new products!
It’s been fun to blend the two worlds of St. Helena Olive Oil Co. and Napa Valley Bath Co…to bring awareness to both what goes in and on your body. It’s amazing how much cross over there is in product…our bath line is truly edible!
I will tell the story of its evolution in the following weeks now that all the major work is done and I can actually take stock in what has transpired! But, for now, let’s celebrate the launch of our new website, www.napavalleybath.com! We are offering a 15% discount on all purchases through April 30, 2012. Use the coupon code launch to redeem your discount at checkout.
Thank you for all of your support….we hope you enjoy our new venture as much as we are!
Now that I know we have great bones to work with, I call in our team to do basic improvements that will stay within our budget…ya! We bead blast the floor and seal it. I wanted lots of light so said good bye to the large bulbs and put in rows of small track lighting. We had the stone walls cleaned and the wood replaced where it was rotting….and painted the front of the space white. We stucco’d the wall in steel blue….it was a bit of a risk but when it was done, the room popped! We plumbed for a basin that I would be installing so our customers could experience our soaps and scrubs….and that I believe was about it!
Once the ink was dry, the construction began! Although I was anxious to find out what condition the stone wall was in and what was under the ghastly green carpet and linoleum, we had to start at the beginning….GUT IT GUYS…everything out! A crew came in and ripped out everything in a day. We were able to salvage the counters, etc.. as someone wanted them for their garage…I love when one persons trash becomes an others treasure…such a perfect circle.
I woke early the next morning but apparently not early enough…I hurried down to watch the “exposing of the wall” and arrived to find it exposed….and shockingly beautiful….wow…it was more then I could have hoped for…it was so amazing…just as it was! OK there was a big opening in the middle of the wall but I expected that based on the outside of the wall that was exposed to the alley…how I knew there was stone to begin with! The opening was a part of the history of the building which is why I love doing this! It appeared that the opening was originally for doors and then transformed to a sliding window of sorts. We brainstormed as to how it might have been used and I pictured it in its day with old wooden doors much like that of a wine cellar. Hold that thought because we had to move onto the final unknown…the floor!
There was a lot of speculation about what was under that oh so icky carpeting and linoleum…it could be a mess and that would be $$$ to fix. I’m not one to fret and I’ve historically been able to find an inexpensive solution to most everything so I didn’t let it get to me…RIP IT ALL UP…I cried! Ok slight exaggeration but you get the point. So..they ripped it up…and there it was…a cement floor with all kinds of imperfections!! There is nothing I love more then imperfection!
At that point I knew the space had come through…the bare bones were what I had thought and hoped for….beautiful imperfection with lots of history. It was all down hill from here!
Wow..can you believe it?! So exciting!!
What started out as a glimmer in my eye has materialized into a complete brand….one with its own look, feel and most important…message! I’m so excited to begin to share with you the transformation of what began with that phone call to what we now proudly call, Napa Valley Bath Co…Earth Driven Beauty.
As my world turns, I was driving home through St. Helena one afternoon last September. I noticed a small “For Lease” sign in a building tucked away in the St. Helena Star Building on Main St. It wasn’t in the best location but it WAS on Main St. I slowed down and passed the vacant storefront at a snails pace…it was not a pretty sight….which made it very attractive to me.
After tossing and turning that night with thoughts of what could be, I decided to dig a little deeper. I went back the next morning on my way to work and peeked in the windows….a diamond in the rough perhaps? I had to look really hard but I could see a shimmer….so I made the call….and later that same day….I was walking in the space.
It wasn’t anything special at first glance….but after a little thought I realized there was a stone wall behind one of the plastered walls and perhaps a cement floor under the green carpeting and linoleum? Paint on everything else and perhaps VOILA? I confirmed my thoughts on the bare structure with my contractor and it was promising enough that I decided to hear the terms of the deal.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I negotiated. It wasn’t a sure bet and I couldn’t come in for too high since I wasn’t even planning on expansion at this point. Seriously…opening a new store for our bath line at this time? the beginning of our busy season? harvest? holidays? I had so many reasons NOT to do it that it empowered my negotiations…I was prepared to walk away…perhaps I was expecting/hoping to walk away…so I stuck to my guns…and guess what? On October 1, 2011, we gave birth to a new “don’t call my baby ugly” retail location.
Here are a few glimpses of what inspired me on that fateful day…….
Ya I know….pretty scary….but just wait!
People always seem to be curious as to where I get my inspiration. As most of you know, it all begins with my girls….they are at the core of all that I do. It is a natural instinct to want to excel so I can provide them (us) with a life that is exciting….empowering….challenging….fulfilling. When times get tough and getting out of bed doesn’t seem like the best option…I think of them….and out I jump.
Andes Mountains Peru 2012
“Meditation is not just a rest or retreat from the turmoil of
the stream or the impurity of the world. It is a way of being
the stream, so that one can be at home in both the white water
and the eddies. Meditation may take one out of the world,
but it also puts one totally into it.”
— Gary Snyder
Applying self-tanner – in theory – sounds like a fantastic alternative to baking under the UV dangers of a hot sun.
For the snow-sensitive among us (this winter totaled about 4 feet in my neck of the woods!), sun in a bottle is an alluring, over-the-counter temptation for countering the pasty-face blues.
But a recent reality check from my favorite green beauty author, Julie Gabriel (the green beauty guide), revealed that bronzer – not self-tanner – is the healthiest way to get your glow on. Here’s why:
• Self-tanners are made with dihydroxyacetone.
• Dihydroxyaceton (DHA) is 180% more prone to attracting free radicals (once-healthy oxygen molecules that are now overactive, unstable, and can damage skin) than untreated skin.
• So while you may be enjoying the immediate gratification of sunless, tanned skin, you’re actually applying an aging property to your face and body. Pass.
The Bronze Age
Gabriel recommends titanium oxide-based bronzers – not talc-based ones – with mica and iron oxides for coloring.
She also recommends blending some mineral or cream bronzer with your body oil or SPF-rated sunscreen lotion to get the safest healthy glow.
Andes Mountains Peru 2012
“With no surroundings there can be no path,
and with no path one cannot become free.”
If it’s not one cold, it’s another! Even though the cold season is supposed to be nearly over, allergy’s are just around the corner. Here are some all-natural tips to help relieve sinus and chest congestion.
Loyal readers of our Napa Valley Bath blog may remember our lavender-infused sinus cure which combines organic lavender essential oil and steamy hot water resulting in clear-headed bliss.
In addition to lovely lavender, there are other all-natural aromatherapeutic blends that help relieve sinus and cough congestion with nary a prescription or co-payment in sight. Using essential oils and herbs for therapeutic use elevates them from simple perfume applications to powerful healing treatments.
Best of all, these are products you buy over the counter at your local grocer – far, far away from the pharmacy. They include:
Eucalyptus: a natural decongestant and expectorant
Rosemary: used for respiratory issues…but it fresh in the produce department and then use the rest on a rosemary organic chicken…another great cure-all!
Thyme: a natural antibacterial
There’s nothing fancy to using these herbs to help you breathe better. Simply boil some water, add one or more herbs (you can blend them or use them separately) and allow the steam to flow into your nasal passages. The essential oil versions of the herbs work as well.
Do you have any all-natural recommendations for relieving sinus or chest congestion? We’d love to hear about them!