Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Organic Kitty Land Catnip Pillow Set Giveaway at the Aquariann Art Blog


Have your visited the great new shop, Organic Kitty Land? Our very own Moira Johnson has started a catnip pillow business with Organic cotton and hemp fabrics. Many of these fabrics were small scrap fabrics from Aquarian Bath's Organic Cotton and hemp flaxseed pillows Your cats will love this little Organic catnip filled pillows.  Our Etsy friend Aquariann is giving away this set of pillows at her Fantasy Art Blog. You can follow this link to enter, or click below on Organic Kitty Land's mascott, Pumpkin Pie.

Worldwide Giveaway

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How do Aquarian Bath Shampoo Bars Stack up to the Competition at Price per oz?


When shopping for products online, it can be hard to get a feel for the size of the item your are buying.  If you haven't tried Aquarian Bath soaps or shampoo bars yet, let me give you a feel for that. I did some comparison shopping with two popular Shampoo bar brands, Lush and J.R. Liggett. When comparing price + shipping of shampoo bars on our website versus these websites we found Aquarian Bath shampoo bars were significantly less expensive per ounce than both Lush and J.R. Liggett on single bar purchases for US addresses.

Lush Shampoo Bar 
1.9 oz bar
$11.95 per bar
$6 shipping
Total $17.95
Total price per oz $9.45

J.R. Liggett Shampoo Bar
3.5 oz bar
$6.99 per bar
$7.45 shipping
Total $14.44
Total price per oz $4.23

Aquarian Bath Shampoo Bar
4 - 4.5 oz bar (some variation d/t handmade)
$7.50 per bar suggested retail price
$6.50 special price (usually available unless inventory is low)
$3.11 shipping
Total at suggested retail price $10.61 
Total at special price $9.61
Total price per oz at suggested retail price $2.36 - $2.65
Total price per oz at special price $2.14- $2.40

To summarize, we found that Aquarian Bath bars are $6.80- $7.31/oz less expensive than Lush bars and  $1.58- $2.09/oz less expensive than L.R. Liggett bars. You can trust you will be saving money when you shop at Aquarian Bath.

Cory Trusty, president
Aquarian Bath

Friday, July 18, 2014

Plastic Free July Update Featuring Two Cracker Recipes

Sour Dough Crackers and Flax seed crackers may be able to replace bagged and box crackers for our family.

We are half way through Plastic Free July, so I felt it was time for an update.  The experience so far has been exciting, empowering, frustrating, depressing, inspiring and startling. Now that I have recovered from a bee sting on my foot, which kept me for 3 days from being my family's plastic cop and food preparer, I will try not to dwell on the depressing aspects. 

Aquarian Bath Update
I will start with the business end of the challenge for Aquarian Bath. So far the amount of plastic we have generated for business is relatively low, mostly clear plastic tape from suppliers or bags from bulk oils.  We try to buy the largest containers of oils possible to minimize packaging waste. Large hard plastic containers are repurposed for bulk grain storage, etc. I realized that one of our suppliers wraps the Dead Sea Mud containers that we order twice a year with a single layer of bubble wrap, even though the overall packing fill for the box is biodegradable. I contacted the supplier to tell them about Plastic Free July, and they have indicated that they would comply with my request to use minimal plastic packaging on all the items. The most startling experience that I had was to have an order from Mountain Rose Herbs come with plastic air pillows. My understanding from when I contacted them about it, was that they were reusing it.  I think this was meant to be a big lesson for me. I have been ordering from Mountain Rose Herbs for around 8 years. It was too ironic that they shipped to me with plastic fill for the first time during Plastic Free July. Usually they ship with a pretty green recycled paper that we in turn use to pack orders. The lesson of course is don't assume, always ask for biodegradable packaging. The good news is that Mountain Rose Herbs does primarily ship with biodegradable fill, and they have indicated that they will accommodate plastic free shipping requests.  I was worried that they had switched to 100% plastic fillers. The biggest dilemma that I have right now with Aquarian Bath's plastic "dilemma box" is our bagged Extra Virgin Olive oil. For years we had been buying good quality European Extra Virgin Olive Oil (but not Organic certified) in cans from a local restaurant supplier. We could even pick it up by bicycle. I really liked that option and felt comfortable with it. When that supplier became unreliable a couple months ago, we switched to QAI certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a bag which holds 35 pounds, the equivalent of around 143 of our Olive Oil soaps. Wanting to support Organic is important to us, so we have mixed feelings about whether or not we will be going back to the good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil in cans. We are not at the level where I can take in an entire drum of Organic Extra Virgin. 

Individual/ Family Update
Since Aquarian Bath is a family business, it did not make sense for me to sign up only for the business challenge, but also the individual/family challenge. During the first half of Plastic Free July, I have noticed that the main source of plastic waste which our family of four is generating is from Organic produce, lids from coconut or hemp milk containers, and bags from snack foods, so I have taken steps to cut out the big ones, which is bags from boxes of crackers.  But before I go on about the cracker recipes we made partial success with, I just have to take a moment to wonder if our family will ever reach a healthy equilibrium with the quality of the foods we are consuming and the amount of waste we are creating. Overall as a family, we agree that we want to eat as low on the food chain as possible; a plant based diet. These are the many times conflicting issues we are already trying to work with in terms of food preparations for one or more family members:

Tendency to excessive weight gain
Tendency to excessive weight loss
Aversion to (gag reflex) Avocado and Quinoa (staples in many in vegan diets)
Aversion to Dairy and Meats
Craving for Dairy and Meats 
Priority on Organic foods 
Priority on non-GMO (un-poisoned, nutrient dense) foods
Inability to chew hard or crunchy foods due to medical history
General distaste for soups, even really good ones
No un-fermented soy
Tendency toward high blood sugar with family history of diabetes
Tendency to over eat
Tendency to forget to eat

This list could go on, but I will leave it at that. Having burned out multiple times over a period of years on trying to prepare regular family meals with all these factors under consideration, adding zero plastic to the list adds another layer of difficulty. 

Our biggest successes this month is to get the children to get over their *need* for straws at restaurants. The solution was to tell them before going out that there would be no using straws for them at the restaurant. Wow, was it really that simple? We have also brought back home grown sprouts as a staple, having a greater awareness that the sprouts will be eaten more often if they are served as a salad, rather than sitting in the fridge waiting to be remembered. Another success is that our CSA, Front Porch Pickings, was willing to start delivering our locally produced produce without plastic bags. They used paper bags for Organic cherry tomatoes which were produced locally. Some of the produce like apples and bananas only come with bags and plastic tape.  Not from the CSA, but frozen blueberries in bags is something the kids eat often. Being in Central Florida, we can get Papayas off of trees this time of year, even in the backyard, but the kids hate them. Go figure. I get stuck often on produce options. I've had bad luck with blueberry bushes, which I've been trying to grow for a few years. On the positive side, the child who was weaned onto wild cherry tomatoes and broccoli that she picked herself while just learning to walk now grazes on kale and tomatoes in the front yard.

Moderate Plastic Free Cracker Success

This week we achieved two homemade crackers, which were partial successes. The first is a sour dough cracker, and the second is a flaxseed cracker made with a dehydrator. I have another Plastic Free July participant and customer to thank for the inspiration to get a sour dough starter going for crackers, tortilla and bread making. Check out Anne-Marie Bonneau of Zero Waste Chef for details on how to make a sour dough starter and sour dough crackers. Sour dough was something I tried a few years ago with very bad results, so I was glad to get off to a good start with this starter.  I followed her recipe precisely:

Sour Dough crackers:
2/3 cup unfed starter (see Anne-Marie's starter recipe here)
3 tablespoons Organic coconut oil
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (I use pink salt)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for topping 
pink salt for topping 


First, I mixed the Organic Coconut oil with the starter. Then I mixed the other dry ingredients in a bowl and added them to the starter-coconut oil.  I kneaded them and let the dough sit covered with a towel at room temperature overnight. In the morning I rolled out the dough on a floured surface as thin as possible (1-2 mm), transferred it to a parchment paper on a cookie sheet and rolled it out a bit more. Then I cut the dough into squares and baked them in a 350 F oven until they were crispy, around 10-15 minutes.  I lost my timer at that moment, so I didn't time it exactly. Eight minutes, followed by rotation and again eight minutes was suggested.

These crackers taste really great, like Annie's certified non-GMO Cheddar Bunnies.  The only problem with these sour dough crackers was that for someone with chewing difficulties they were basically impossible to eat. I am not sure if there is something I can do to fix that. I didn't like the texture of the ones that were baked for a shorter time period.

The next nearly plastic free cracker epiphany was courtesy of a mystery guest at Dr. Mercola's 60th Birthday party; (and yes I am proud to say Joe is also one of our customers). I never found out who brought the straight up flaxseed crackers, but they were amazing. I was excited to try making them, because we already get Organic flaxseed in 25 pound paper bags for our flax therapy pillows and hens. So it is not uncommon to have 50-200 pounds handy!  I searched pinterest for a how-to and found this recipe which I used as a guide. The recipe requires a food dehydrator:

Flaxseed Cracker Recipe
2 1/2 cups of Organic Brown flaxseed 
2 T Organic chia seed
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
chopped veggie bits: Organic onion, Organic tomato
Organic Onion Powder to taste
Organic Garlic Powder to taste
Pink salt to taste

The first step was to soak the seeds in water for about an hour and a half. You need a lot of water because they swell up. While the seeds are soaking, line the trays of a food dehydrator with parchment paper, but skip the bottom tray if you have the common round plastic stacking tray type dehydrators.  If you don't then the bottom tray could overheat.  A better quality dehydrator, if you can afford it, is sold by our friends at Fresh and Alive for $200. The trays are made with break resistant polycarbonator, however. I'm not sure what the best way would be to be to make these crackers without a plastic dehydrator. Maybe in a solar dehydrator with wooden trays?

After the trays are lined,  strain the water from the seeds and add them to mixing bowl. Mix in your other ingredients and give it a taste to see if you like it. Then make a thin paste-like layer over the parchment paper. After the trays are lined and the seeds are soaked,   It takes about 2 and a half days to dehydrate them.  They are delicate and crispy, a much better texture than the sour dough crackers.  

This recipe I filed under "Wow amazing, I can't believe everyone else in my family didn't love it." I'm going to try next to make a hybrid recipe between the flax crackers and the sour dough in order to try to achieve the same sour dough flavor with a better texture from the addition of flax seeds. 

My next goal for before the end of the month, is to try again with a granola recipe, since I caught us buying boxed and bagged Organic granola, because it was on sale. I know I used to make granola, but I don't quite remember what put me off the habit a few years back, though I am guessing it may have been the high sugar content. We currently buy the 50 pound bags of Organic oats for oatmeal and for our chickens, so I will try making it again to see if we can make some to have stashed for a special treat instead of overeating it.

Thanks for reading our update.  Please feel welcome to leave a comment.

Cory Trusty, president

Aquarian Bath's brand new Lavender Vanilla Shampoo Bar is
made with the same base formula that we use for our
 Henna Shampoo Bars and Orange Lavender Shampoo Bars






Thursday, July 17, 2014

Harmony Drive Film Vignette Starring Tonya Kay

Have you ever struggled with trying to do what you feel is the right thing with limited support from family? One of our customers, Tonya Kay, stars in this short vignette from a larger film called The Pamphleteer about a woman whose quiet promotion of vegan lifestyle has profound impacts on those who read her handmade literature. Tonya plays Darcy, a new vegan who finds herself the odd girl out at her families Mother's Day dinner.



I loved this film, because even though I am not a vegan, I appreciate the presentation on multiple levels. First, I admire the vegan lifestyle and think it is healthy for a lot of people. That said I am more of a vegetarian, and I will probably never give up our backyard eggs from happy hens. Notwithstanding, I was happy to see a film presenting veganism and the ripple effect that can be created by the individual. The main reason I liked it though was that I think Tonya really channeled the feelings that anyone can experience within a mainstream family when they are trying to make healthy or ethical choices. So if you have ever felt frustrated with or isolated from your family by being the vegan, the vegetarian, the recovering alcoholic, gluten-free, soy-free, Organic, non-GMO, or trying to avoid plastic packaging, etc., then watch this short little film for a moment of solace. You are not alone.


Monday, July 7, 2014

25 Uses for Aquarian Bath's Zero Waste Soap Saver Towel Pouches


We are finding more and more uses for our new hemp and Organic cotton Zero Waste Soap Saver Towel Pouches every day. You should pick one up with your next soap order, because they have so many uses and it helps you use up the last bits of your soap or shampoo bars. We tried to come up with as many uses as possible.  This list is just the beginning!  

1. Clean stove and counter tops
2. Quick wet dust the house.
3. Wash dishes by hand quickly and easily.
4. Use in the shower for scrubbing your body.
5. Clean finger prints off door knobs and around doorways.

We are offering these soap saver bags in different colors so you can have one color for the kitchen, one color for the bathroom, etc.  Shop for green here.
6. Scrub dust off of vents.
7. OCD cleaning tool
8. See #7
9. Use up the odd hotel soap left overs
10. Wash window sills.
11. Quickly wash up children who like to play in mud puddles. 
12. Polish bald spots (no soap required).
13. Give as a housewarming gift. 

Mix and Match Gift set
14. Great gift for a soap maker.
15. Great gift for a maker of ugly soaps
16. Wedding gift
17. Econerd gift
18. Pot holder for 18 inch doll.

19. Stealth bathroom stash pocket.
20. Bathroom soap coaster
21. Tile polisher
22. Pot scrubber
23. Toilet scrubber
24. Sink scrubber
25. Toe flossing device


Please join in the fun and add any other uses you come up with by leaving a comment on this blog post.