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Anointment + Bummis = A Match Made in Heaven

:: A photo of April, Owner of Anointment and Jolyn, Owner of Nurtured at the Toronto Kid Show January 2013.

Bummis and Anointment have entered into a fantastic partnership – beginning this year Anointment Baby Balm samples will be included in every Organic Cotton Diaper Kit and BeautifulBASIC Cloth Diaper Kit distributed in North America. We are SO THRILLED about this partnership, and we wanted to share with you a little blog post written by Betsy, co-owner of Bummis about the new relationship!

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Behind the Scenes Part III

During my lunch break I:


:: fed the gold fish, Goldie and John.


:: Made sure the dog was still breathing. He was.


:: Ate a left over bowl of chili cashew chicken noodles, a recipe by Donna Hay. Note that mine looks nothing like her photo. I also substituted pine nuts for cashews since that’s what was in my cupboard. Perused a back issue of Stitch Magazine to gather ideas for Christmas gifts I will have no time to complete but still like to think about.

more belly butter

:: I had prepared three more batches of Belly Butter for cooling before I went for lunch, so when I came back, I emulsified, whipped and jarred them all. I typically do three batches at a time and usually two sets of three to end with a decent amount of product. This is only a fraction of what I need to complete this week.

I’m still working on the Rose Toner and have 45 minutes left before my two older children arrive home from school. Their little brother will be along shortly, he spent the morning with my mom and providing the rain doesn’t pick up, she’ll walk him home in the stroller. I’d best get moving.

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Sunflower + Calendula Soap

Last week I had the opportunity to lead a soapmaking workshop with a small group of youth from the Sackville Community Garden. Using organic sunflower oil and dried calendula (a type of marigold with excellent skin soothing properties) from their garden we made a small batch of a lovely mild soap.

This was a first for me – I have never given a soapmaking workshop before. I have learned that my workshop space is not particularly well suited to having a group of people! I did enjoy the process and got a rare chance to experiment with a new recipe AND make soap in a rectangular mold for the first time (oh how it is so simple compared to round molds)! It remains to be seen how interested the youth were – their willingness to participate in the process – well, they were a bit stoic about the whole thing but maybe they’ll come to appreciate it later on.

Sunflower oil contains a high percentage of high-oleic acid oils which makes the soap much slower to harden than I am used to – after 48 hours they were still easily ‘smooshable’ when removing them from the molds.

Sunflower + Calendula Soap

This soap also contains a small amount of annatto seed infused in the lye, giving the soap a lovely light yellow colour and tiny reddish flecks. I can’t wait to try it out and compare it to the super-secret-and-highly-coveted Anointment soap formula.

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For the last few years my brother has been tapping his trees, collecting sap and making maple syrup in small quantities (2-3 litres) for our own use. This year we were so excited to collect our own sap from four very large and mature maple trees in our own backyard. On a good day these four trees will produce 20 L of sap which will translate to about 500 mL of syrup. We boiled down the sap on the weekend over a wood stove in my brother’s garage. Next year, we’ll plan a party around sugarin’ time!

Last week we had RECORD high temperatures that caused the sap flow to stop and many of us feared the season was over. My brother’s trees were producing “cloudy” sap, an indication that the buds were formed and that the sap was no longer useful for sugaring. Our own trees, however, seem to have restarted, so there is still hope for the seaon!

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Shoo! Outdoor Body Spray

Shoo! Outdoor Bug Spray

I’d like to introduce to you our newest product: Shoo! Outdoor Body Spray. It’s not just a spray to make you smell nice, it is a bug repellant. Why didn’t we just call it bug repellant? It’s complicated, but suffice to say that cosmetic laws in Canada are sometimes baffling.

This is a product we’ve been working on since 2010. It’s been a long time coming and with lots of research and field testing, we’re pretty happy with the results! We’ve drawn on some of the latest research and traditional ingredients to make what we feel is an effective bug repellant.

The base ingredient is certified organic soybean oil. We use certified organic to ensure that the oil is NOT generated from genetically modified organisms (GMO), something we are concerned about at Anointment. Most conventionally grown soybeans are grown from GMO seeds. Soybean oil will provide protection against mosquitoes for 3 hours and up to 8 hours for black flies according to Health Canada.

We also use a considerable amount of neem oil. Neem tree oil enjoys an important position in Ayurvedic medicine and in addition to being an insect repellant it is useful in safely removing pests from plants and crops. Neem oil has a very distinct smell described by some as ‘peanuts and garlic’.

These two oils are combined and infused with lemongrass and bay leaf at low temperatures to extract the beneficial properties of these plants to the oil. Once infused the oils are strained and hand-blended with a mix of cedarwood (0.5%), lemongrass (0.5%) and eucalyptus (0.2%) essential oil.

Eucalyptus should never be taken internally and should never be applied undiluted to the skin. Please take extreme care that your children and babies do not have access to Shoo! Outdoor Body Spray or any other bug repellant product. Always apply bug spray to clothing first and then spray on an adult’s hand to apply to the skin of children. For extra safety, do not apply to the faces and hands of children under three. Wee ones are prone to putting their hands in their mouths!

All of our research indicates that this product is acceptable for pregnant and breastfeeding women. We do recommend following the same instructions as for children: spray your clothing first and then apply to skin if needed.

Shoo! Outdoor Body Spray is oil based and may stain light-coloured clothing. Mist carefully!

Most of all, get outdoors and have fun!

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before and after

Another “before” and “progress”. Here is the barn that will house our chickens this spring. Jeff worked very hard stripping the old shingles, reframing windows, lifting and leveling the building, re-sheathing and re-shingling. My husband works so hard! He is amazing.

The barn looks fantastic, I can’t wait to show you “after afters” once we get the great lights up that I gave Jeff for Christmas. Sounds like a weird gift, I know, but we’re a practical bunch…

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the soapmaking sound system

Ghetto Blaster

Before anything happens in the soap making workshop, before gloves go on and pots are put to burner you MUST do one thing. You must turn on the radio. Depending on who is “head soapmaker” that day (myself or my father), the radio will be tuned to pop or oldies, respectively.

This “ghetto blaster” was purchased by my mother at the long-since closed Lounsbury’s Furniture store in Sackville, New Brunswick in or around 1983. It still works perfectly.

And yes, when we got it, we carried it around on our shoulders listening to Run-DMC. And for your listening pleasure and a little nostalgia:

PS: I am a closet Aerosmith fan.

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Adapted from Soulemama‘s “…Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.”

Rather than capture a “moment”, I feel inspired to capture the small details around me, to remind me to stop and smell the roses in this new iteration of our lives.

Herbal Clay Cleanser

This is a photo from the ACTS booth display. I love how the blue label of the Herbal Clay Cleanser contrasts the calendula flowers (in lovely apothecary jars loaned to me by Aunt Pam).

If you’ve noticed interesting {details} around you, please share or leave a link in the comments.

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Whoa, it’s been a while

I’ve been kicked in the pants by a few folks, most recently the lovely Sarah to start blogging again. I promise, I will.

I have been up to my eyeballs in alligators, so my old boss, Tom Austin, used to say. Since January I have been producing like mad in preparation for the Atlantic Craft Trade Show, which took place in Halifax the first weekend in February. This was my first trip back to Halifax and left me with a lot of emotional loose ends to tie up. All five (!) of us went and while my friend Tory was very gracious in hosting us all, suffice to say that next year, I’m going alone.

The exhaustion of working the booth and nursing all night long with a baby who hadn’t seen me all day left me drained, and all five of us came down with various incarnations of the flu, which put me behind another ten days or so.

I’m almost caught up.

I find my hands are always so full of children/babies/work/home that I don’t think to take photos of my day, and when I do, weeks pass before I have a minute to take them off the camera and upload them. I’m making an effort to change that.

Many things are happening in the workshop these days. I made some hefty goals for Anointment this year and I’m working as hard as I can on about five different projects while simultaneously keeping my eyes on the fries, as it were. I’ve got a lot of building to do.

For now, I’ll leave you with this, a link to the article I have written this month for Oh My! Handmade Goodness. I have been thinking a lot about the changing retail landscape recently and thought you might enjoy this little taste of my experience with consignment.

Be back soon!

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Adapted from Soulemama‘s “…Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.”

Rather than capture a “moment”, I feel inspired to capture the small details around me, to remind me to stop and smell the roses in this new iteration of our lives.

Wood-Baked Pizza

Baking pizza in a wood-fired stove manufactured by Enterprise Foundry right here in our hometown. Also a sneak peek of our half-painted kitchen, currently wearing a coat-and-a-half of Benjamin Moore’s Potter’s Clay.

If you’ve noticed interesting {details} around you, please share or leave a link in the comments.

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Sharing a Passion for Natural Living

Photo by Katie Tower
Written by Katie Tower, the following appeared in the Wednesday, October 5, 2011 issue of the Sackville Tribune-Post

April MacKinnon is what you might call a busy mom.

With three children under the age of six, renovations underway on their 150-year-old Victorian farmhouse on the outskirts of town, and a home-based business that is starting to gain notoriety across North America, as well as manning a booth every week at the Saturday morning farmers’ market, the stay-at-home mom keeps a pretty hectic schedule.

And MacKinnon is enjoying every minute of it.

“It’s a fine balance between growing a business and raising a family . . . but it’s something I love to do,” she says.

MacKinnon, who recently moved back to her hometown after more than a decade in the Halifax area, runs Anointment Natural Skin Care Inc. out of her spacious home in Upper Sackville – making handcrafted soaps, baby oils, balms, toners and bath salts from pure ingredients. She says she’s proud to be back in Sackville with her family, doing something she is passionate about.

“We make our soaps and body care products in small batches, by hand, the old-fashioned way,” she explains. “It’s a slow deliberate process that’s not mechanized in any way.”

The road to where she’s at now, however, has been a winding one.

Her training is as a civil (environment) engineer, which was how she met her husband back in 1998. But her work in the field, in which she saw firsthand what goes on at city dumps and landfills, was what ultimately set her on a different path.

When she became pregnant with her first child in 2005, she knew she wanted to make some changes in her life.

“I had become really aware of how much we throw out,” she says. “And I felt strongly that I didn’t want to use disposable diapers on my kids or use chemicals that would harm them.”

When her daughter Anna was born, MacKinnon started up her own online business selling cloth diapers and natural baby supplies from her home in Dartmouth.

Three years later, the business had grown to the point she was giving monthly workshops in the community on cloth diapers and baby carriers and she was getting ready to open her own retail store.

It was then, when she was operating her shop Nurtured in downtown Halifax, that she was given the chance to acquire Anointment. MacKinnon had been selling the products in her store and the woman who had founded the business was getting ready to step down from it.

With a newfound passion for natural living and a love of the Anointment products, it was an opportunity MacKinnon says she just couldn’t pass up, even though she had her hands more than full.

Her life began to get even busier.

She was trained in soap making so she was now spending her evenings and weekends producing skin care products for her own shop and a handful of wholesale clients.

It didn’t take long, however, before she started to realize the demands of running two growing businesses were taking its toll on her and her family.

That’s when they decided to make another big change.

Selling her store just this past March and their home in April, MacKinnon and her husband, with their three kids in tow, left Halifax and returned back to her hometown, deciding to put all her efforts solely into Anointment.

“Because Anointment is primarily a wholesale company, I can basically do it from anywhere,” she says.

Her new country home, which features a second kitchen which is being used solely for making the Anointment products, has been ideal for both her growing family and her growing business.

And the new setting has paid off for MacKinnon. The success of Anointment is continuing to flourish.

Her products – which are made from only the purest ingredients with no synthetic fragrances, colours, petroleum products or preservatives – are being sold in 25 retail stores across Canada and she has deals with a number of cloth diaper manufacturers who purchase her baby products.

And even more recently, MacKinnon’s top-selling product, Baby Balm, was awarded the Parent-Tested Parent-Approved (PTPA) Seal of Approval. PTPA has North America’s largest volunteer testing community, with over 40,000 parents.

MacKinnon says she’s thrilled to have received this recognition for a product she so strongly believes in.

“It was really fantastic to get that vote of confidence that people love it . . . to get that kind of feedback from people is a really phenomenal achievement,” she says.

Baby Balm, which doesn’t contain zinc oxide as most other mainstream baby ointments do, is more cloth diaper friendly because it doesn’t plug up the fabric and it’s easier on an infant’s skin.

“It’s made with certified organic oils and herbs that provide skin soothing and healing properties,” she says.

Baby Balm, which takes about three days to make by hand, was one of many entries from across North America competing to earn the PTPA seal.

“I really enjoy making it. So if that’s going to be our flagship, then that’s great.”

So what’s the next step for MacKinnon? She says it will now be more important than ever to find new ways to market her products, “getting them out to more stores and growing the brand across North America.”

And although you would expect in a world where people are becoming much more environmentally-aware, she needn’t be too concerned about how her business will fare. But that’s exactly the toughest hurdle she faces.

“There is a growing demand but there’s also a competitive market . . . so setting yourself apart is the biggest challenge,” says MacKinnon.

In Sackville, Anointment products are sold at the Crofter or the Saturday morning farmer’s market on Bridge Street

She says her adult skin care products are big sellers locally, including the herbal clay cleanser, rose toner and Om Shanti soap.”

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*That* Kind of Day

Keep Calm and Drink Tea
Florencia Mascaro via Channing Allard and Pinterest

Today was *that* kind of day. The kind of day where I couldn’t stand for one more minute the amount of dust around here, the men coming in and out with the screen door banging behind them. I have a lot of Anointment work to do and was trying to get some work done when I heard water spraying from somewhere it shouldn’t have been and someone yelling “SHUT THE WATER OFF” from the kitchen. I walked in to see water pouring out of the ceiling and immediately ran upstairs to the bathroom thinking someone had left the tap on. Nothing. The men working in the basement shut the main water supply off to the house when we discovered that the man crack filling the drywall had mistakenly driven a screw through a hot water pipe, soaking the kitchen and most of the new drywall. I bit my lower lip, put the baby in the van and drove to Cackling Goose Market, our local health food store. Luckily the owner, Amanda, and Suzan, one of my favourite staffers were there and we diffused the situation with a little chocolate and conversation. Then I quickly drove to my mom and dad’s (where the two “big kids” already were) and spent the rest of the day there, just pretending that my house isn’t a construction zone.

I’m ready to be done this phase of renovations.