Fishermen and Fiddleheads

Begging your forgiveness again for another belated post….

In the ten days immediately following the Trade Show here in Yellowknife, the Crafter was bowled over by a wicked virus.  She has yet to completely shake it, but at least we are back in the workshop. I loath sacrificing even one precious spring day to illness (let alone a week’s worth)…, uggh!

Ah, but what fun we had at the show…. It was glorious to chat with so many of our clients face to face again.    We are truly humbled by how gracious and complementary everyone was. We promise to work diligently keeping the trust you place in our products’ quality, as well as bringing joy to your nose.  Thank you to all who stopped by.

For those that didn’t get a browsing chance… Here are some Trade Show shots:

The booth set-up:

Display

A little bit of everything.

Display2

Yes, we can cram a lot of product on those tables!

This time around we made sure to include a plethora of new goodies to reward our loyal clientele.  It’s fun to discover something new now and then!  Aside from the two new soaps, we introduced a territorial-themed line of nail polish (we only see our toes for a few months; let’s make them sparkle)!

Nail Polish

With names like  ‘Con Mine Tower Red, Putting the Yellow’ in Yellowknife, Gifts of the Great Slave, Party at the Multiplex’, etc…,  there was a shade for every Northern mood (and we are thrilled that the polish base is free from toluene, dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde).

Of course there were Soaps in Parkas. Which I just have to show you again, ’cause they make me happy:

Soap in a Parka

Another new release (much appreciated by our outdoors men and women) was our fisherman’s soap: ‘No Guts, No Gory’  (or, Dude, you smell like fish!).  By happy accident, our fishing friends discovered last summer the power of this soap to completely eradicate that fishy smell from hands. We are looking forward to getting out on the lakes soon and cleaning the catch!

fisherman's soap

Whether you hook it, gut it or prepare it, this soap will get the smell off.

As all these products were so well received, we think they may join the regular line-up! They can be found at the ‘Down to Earth Gallery’ right now. And, look for them to be listed on the in the future (if we can keep them in stock).

On a different note, the Crafter was cruising the veggie aisles last week and stumbled on some packages of fiddleheads (baby ferns you can eat):

fiddleheads

Mmmmm…, green growing things…

Never one to shy from a culinary challenge, the Crafter took some home (hoping the novelty would encourage her progeny to eat their veggies).  Steamed and then quickly fried with a little butter, onion and garlic, they were fantastic!! Kind of like a non-bitter, nutty asparagus. Even the kids liked them!! She promptly picked up two more packages. I highly recommend you give them a go, if nothing else for the novelty (just remember, never eat them raw). They are truly a spring specialty.

Now to get the vegetable garden planted out back (before it snows again in three and a half months)!!

Spring Cometh! (It just taketh its sweet time)

Surely this infernal winter will end soon, and true to form the North will skip the shoulder season and spring right up to mid-teen temps…. Surely…, any day now….

In the meantime, the Crafter has been juggling single parenting (hairy-half is up North again) and bustling in the workshop concocting some fun and frivolous goodies to share with you at the up and coming trade show (mothers’ day weekend at the Multiplex).  In addition, there are two new soap releases to tantalize you with!

Let’s just jump right in shall we….

Those of you haunting the social playground that is ‘ Facebook’ will recognize these fun felted soaps decorating our page:

soaps in parkas‘Soap in a Parka’ (ie felted soap)

These are an assortment of our artisan soaps felted in hand dyed merino, silk and bamboo fibres. The rainbow colours just make me happy, and we think the built-in exfoliation is awesome.

A finally, the new addition to our  Northern line-up is here!!!! Meet   ‘Nose to Nose with Nanuq’ :

NanuqSoap‘Nose to Nose with Nanuq’

For those unfamiliar, ‘Nanuq’ is the Inuktitut word for ‘Polar Bear’! This bar has taken the Crafter lots of experimenting to realize her vision of  Nanuq’s face emerging suddenly out of the sea-fog. Many sketches and carved blocks of soap later…. success.

New Soap Stampsketching and carving for the soap stamp

This soap is  glorious wash of coconut, palm kernel and soybean oils with a generous dose of shea butter to keep your pelt soft and shiny! And, the fragrance is a simple spa-fresh tonic one. The black glitter is dabbed into the stamped face with a small paintbrush.  This was such a fun process, and we hope you will fall in love with that adorable ‘mug’ too.

Next is a seasonal limited edition release (which we think may end up as part of the regular line anyway).  This is sure to satisfy all our lemongrass lovers (or those just needing a spring fix)…

Lemongrass‘A Roll in the Lemongrass’

Here’s the write-up:  summer lovin’ beckons in this sumptuous soap loaded with soya bean, carrot tissue oils and tussah silk. Essential oils of lemongrass and rosemary and a pinch of calendula finish with a cuddle….  Truly, this is just… ‘yum’.

These two soaps will be available for the first time at the Trade Show (though I can set a few aside for you if you are drooling at the mouth and won’t make it there).

Of course, much of our regular line will be at the show for you to sniff and shop, but there are still plenty of new and limited edition goodies we are formulating to surprise our awesome clients with…. Stay tuned….

 

 

Valentine Huggin’ & Granola Eatin’

This time of year always feels like we have finally reached the backside of an uphill slog.

We now gain a whopping six minutes a day in sunlight (a whole hour every week and a half…, for the math-allergic). But much like dieting, the Crafter doesn’t pay attention to just the numbers on the scale, (it’s all about the fit of the pants). And so she grateful for the little things like picking up the kids from school without the use of headlights or a bright horizon as the school day begins…. Mind you, the Crafter’s hairy half has been up in Resolute Bay and watched the light gain 20 min a day. Which makes me come across as a bit of an amateur.

Maybe the windchill will even ease up from the -40s soon.

To keep our minds off the winter quarantine, we have been getting cozy in the workshop. And, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we are releasing  our limited edition ‘Smooches’ soap.

Smooches Soap

Valentine Soap:  ‘Smooches’

This is a seriously limited edition with only 32 bars having been produced.  The fragrance oil goes by the rather cheeky name of ‘lick me all over’. Think of it as naughty-fruity.

ValentineBomb

‘U da Bomb’ : Valentine bath bomb.

Even fewer ‘UdaBomb’ heart shaped bath bombs were made. They are lovely though: full of kaolin clay, jojoba oil and Epsom salts.  If you are wanting one of these guaranteed,  let us know, we will put it aside. Otherwise, they will be at Sutherlands, downtown, on Thursday. Happy smooching!

Here is another custom wedding soap from last year that I have been meaning to share. The bride wanted ‘his’ and ‘hers’ scented wedding favours in her colours (blue, white and silver). The Crafter carved and poured the stamp: the bride and groom’s initials as used on the invitations. Dare I say that soap made for a very cool party favour!?

wedding favour soap

His and Hers

The Crafter wants you to know that the soap supply is steadily growing and the virtual store shelves will be restocked as they cure and come off the racks. She thanks you for you patience. Things are a little slow as she is working through a new daily routine that includes four mornings at the gym…. Long winter days in the workshop do not contribute to a girlish figure….

And since returning to a more sensible lifestyle she has been trying out some new recipes. Other than the mind-numbing task of daily dinner preparation, the second most reviled chore of the weekdays is the planning and assembly of healthy, flavourful lunch bags for the kids:  something they like, something that is good for them, something that is filling, something they didn’t have yesterday….. AAaaaargh…! So, finding herself buying granola bars by the bulk-load (and reading the ingredient lists), the Crafter went on a granola bar recipe scavenger hunt. Many batches later, the kids are satisfied and mom is thrilled:

homemade granola

You can use whatever dried fruits, nuts, grains you have shoveled into the back of the pantry

granola chocolate chips

If your kids like the chocolate varieties, just sprinkle some on the top as it comes out of the oven give it a minute and smear with a knife or spatula

granola bars

No mom-guilt here (and they don’t need to know how much bran is in there)

If anyone wants to give it a shot, here is our final recipe (double batch):

4 C         rolled oats (we love  Rogers Porridge Oats with flax seed, oat and wheat brans)

3/4 C   wheat germ (or bran, or coconut, or whatever)

1 tsp     cinnamon (or nutmeg….)

2 C        whole wheat flour

1.5 C     raisins ( dried fruit….)

1.5  tsp    salt

 1 C      oil     (or do some applesauce combo with oil)

1 C       honey

2         eggs (beaten)

4 tsp   vanilla

*1 Cup  applesauce or pumpkin puree

Combine  the dry ingredients (mixer works well), add wet, mix well

Spread into a ~1/2 to 1 inch thick slab (it is sticky) on a lined cookie sheet

Bake @350 for ~20 min (until edges just brown if you like them to stay soft, longer if you want them to harden up)

Cut into bars while still warm (you can always try the chocolate trick mentioned above before cutting)

Take this recipe and run with it…. It takes very little effort and you can really customize it for your kids’ tastes!

*Update:  If you are adding and messing about with ingredients and you prefer a softer bar, I highly suggest the addition of   1 Cup  of applesauce or pumpkin as these bars can easily turn out dry. Watch carefully for the edges to brown. If you do overcook it, crumble and use like regular granola!!

 

Pretty…Handmade…Things…(drool)…

Fear not, we are back in the workshop again, but I thought I would share some other pretty things while the soaps set up….

Those who know the Crafter, know her proclivity for all things ‘artisan’.

ar·ti·san   [ahr-tuh-zuh n] 

noun

1.      a person skilled in an applied art ; a craftsperson.

2.     a person or company that makes a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand and using traditional methods

adjective

3.     pertaining to or noting high-quality, distinctive products made in small quantities

We simply love everyday usable, wearable art.  So you can imagine our delight at this incredible gift from our talented knitting friend, Julie.  The fiber is from Koigu: a 100% merino wool paired with a premium handpainted merino yarn, and truly a work of incredible craftsmanship! Get an eyeful:
Handknit shawl
It is perfectly weighted to drape over the shoulders and not roll off
Julie's magic handknit shawl
merino artisan shawl
Just take a close up look at the awesome workmanship…
drooling yet?
Yes, she is gifted…. And all mine (says the spinner to the knitter)!  The Crafter wears it non-stop. It keeps out the Northern chill and makes her feel faaaabuulous!
 Now we will have Julie  have a go at the merino/seacell handpainted Miss Babs blend we finally plied:
Merino and Seacell on Swift
Merino 70% Seacell 30% on the swift.
Merino and Seacell
Shiny lovely skeins….
Next up on the wheel, a fabulous merino, bamboo and tussah silk roving we are anxious to spin….
One more brag-worthy artisan piece to share with you. This time, I bring you a Yellowknife handmade parka. This was a gift from the Crafter’s hairy half and progeny, who chose the stunning felt colour and the incredible ring seal and silver fox hood trims just for Mummy (methinks the darling daughter had the majority of input here).
Yellowknife parka

Warm cuddly parka, handmade in Yellowknife

parka detail

front dog detail

toboggan and  team detail

Yes…, you can fit and entire sled dog team and toboggan across the Crafter’s rear end!

silverfox trim

Silver fox detail…. soooooo warm when it blows 40 below!

There you go, a little eye-candy until we can get some new product pics up. Back to the workshop!

Catching up with us

Happy 2013 to all!!

If anyone can figure out what happened to Oct, Nov and Dec, would you please let us know…. We seemed to have misplaced them.

So let’s catch up.

The Crafter began December in glorious Grand Prairie (a nice temperate Southern destination) at the Farmer’s Market Christmas Craft sale, the highlight of which was meeting a new friend and amazing soaper out of High Level. She is just a sweetheart and her soaps and nail polish are gorgeous: K&C’s Bath House and Bakery.  The Crafter is happy to have someone who can also discuss the minutia of soap ad-nauseum  (and she loves shoes too… could she be any cooler)?

The great adventure for the Family on that voyage was crossing the Mackenzie River by the old Merv Hardie ferry southbound and returning North over the new Deh Cho bridge!

Merv Hardie

Morning on the Merv Hardie

new DehChoBridge

Onto the Deh Cho bridge.

DehChoCablet

Cables and Pylon

DehChoBridge1

A simple, elegant connection to the North

and no more bi-annual gathering of the Northern-migratory tractor trailer…

Spring Thaw Preparation

Upon returning home, the Crafter basically worked non-stop balancing family and soap until Christmas day.  ‘Cause it wasn’t crazy enough, the family fostered a pup for the NWT SPCA over the holidays. We gave her the temporary name of Creme Brule and had a blast getting used to all that puppy energy . We were sad to see her go so soon but they had to send her South for adoption. She was one of the brightest-laid back dogs I have ever come across:

NWT SPCA puppy

The Boxer still misses her

And of course, the Crafter has been industriously switching over to the new company name of ‘Raw North’. The re-naming contest winner was Tina Crowe who sent us in the ‘raw’ direction. We are thankful to all who participated in the contest and are truly pleased with the feel of the new name (a great description of our Northern environment on these blistering cold days, I’d say).

Now we are back in the workshop (mostly reclaiming and organizing the space and taking inventory). We will begin pouring again in the next few days and formulating some new seasonal soaps soon.

Oh, and please don’t forget Friday is the benefit fundraiser for Gary Potts. Keep up with his story over on the Groovin’ for Gary blog. You cannot help but be touched by the love he inspires in all who know him. We are happy to be a tiny part of this tremendous effort to keep him smiling !! Please join in.

 

A Growing-Pains Contest

How quickly autumn was seemingly stripped away! And now we bask in hoar frost and crystal-filled air again as Christmas looms.

Our little Northern soap business continues to grow thanks to all you soap junkies. We have finally migrated from kitchen to basement workshop (complete with stainless steel work surfaces), yay !! I will show off a few photos in future (and once it gets straightened up for company). Thank you for all the patience you have shown when product was not always available when you wanted it.

A Contest!

Now, we need your help and input.

When first she chose the name for the business, the Crafter thought she had done her homework, but alas, not sufficiently.  In Canada, the exclusive rights to the use of the term “Naked”, when applied to bath and body products, is officially registered to one soap company. Therefore, we must affect a name change within the next month.

This is where you come in: help us come up with a new company name. Our parameters are that the name reflects/encompasses all of the the North and will be followed by ‘Soap Company’.  If we choose your suggested name, you will win a basket full of goodies. Submit as many as you like. But we will need them within the next 7 days. C0ntest closes at 23h59, Yellowknife time, on December 17.  Send names to rawnorthsoap@gmail.com and include your return email or contact info. If no submitted name is selected, one of the entries will be chosen at random for a prize pack anyway. Just ’cause we love you. And you deserve something nice.

We’ll let you know as soon as a name is chosen.

Thanks for holding our hands through these growing-pains. No matter the name, we will continue to keep you in quality soap and sundries ‘inspired by, and designed for, Northern skin (and those who like to cuddle it).’

 

 

Just Food

I love cake.  All flavours of cake. All styles of cake. Of course it is just as spectacular when made of soap (though the aftertaste is pretty nasty). But we are talking here about the hip-enhancement varieties of sugary, eggy, creamy, spongy delight.

Though not the most accomplished of cake makers (unlike her friends and clients, Joanne and Lori, whose work is…, well…, simply scrumptious), the Crafter does enjoy flexing her cake muscles for her prodgeny (who are not big art critics, just big cake-eaters). And ever since being introduced to the ease and creativity of marshmallow fondant (thank you Lori), she has been having a blast with birthdays. Here are the latest birthday creations for the ‘7yr-Mario Bros-crazy‘ ds and ‘9-going-on-19‘ dd:

mario_cake

his favourite video game

sushi_platter_cake

sushi platter cake: she wanted sushi for her birthday supper

sushi_cake_lit

So all you self-professed cake lovers, be you not so good at the piped-icing-thingy, I heartily encourage you to take the plunge into fondant and self-discovery for your next cake. Throw on a lot of gummy-candies if you get stuck. Nine-year olds are pretty forgiving that way!

On the subject of gastronomic excess…. The Crafter’s Hairy Half returned from some man-bonding East-Arm fishing with more stunning trout which he and the boys managed to smoke successfully (notwithstanding the huge scorch mark on the deck).  The freezer is full to bursting now, and visions of fish-tacos dance in my head.

Here is a shot of his last catch from closer to home ready to hit the grill….

fresh_trout

Lemon, capers, basil and onion stuffed trout. This just screams summer!

 And to finish the feast (you’ll note I started with dessert first), we should indulge in a little vino and smoked goat cheese. But if you get too deep into your cups, beware the deep-sea ‘wine-horse’. He’ll be the last thing you see before you run out of oxygen….

cheese_horse

Cheers!

Taking a Peek Under the Parka

I hope this post finds you idling luxuriously by some body of water (not the kiddie pool) with a refreshing fruity (slightly fermented) concoction beside you (and I assume an electronic device in your other hand reading this).

Our time here with family in the Niagara region is melting away ever so quickly. Of course, this might be due, in part, to the obscene heat and humidity. Holy moly!

The Crafter has been using her time wisely: catching up on sleep (since it actually gets dark down here),  ensuring continued employment for beer brewers and Niagara wine growers, and adequately entertaining her progeny. This has included kneeboarding and swimming, a trip on the Niagara Whirlpool Jetboats, Canada’s Wonderland, the Ontario Science Center, Medieval Times, hanging with Great Danes, playing with their cousins, and driving in their uncle’s Ferrari.  Not necessarily in that order. Here are some gratuitous shots:

a little Dane (and a Northerner)

puppy love

yes, the same model driven by Magnum PI

boy in Ferrari

quality ‘cousin’ time

 The Crafter is chomping at the bit to get back to her soap pot. She thanks her loyal soap-junkies for being so patient whilst she holidays and promises to refill the curing racks as soon as she returns. She is very excited to have taken delivery of a brand new 4-chambered loaf mold which will help her economize her batch-time.  She has also been fantasizing over the special edition soaps that will be needed for the upcoming autumn and winter seasons….

Mmmmmm, soap-fantasies……