Cafe Collection - Behind the Scenes

April 18, 2017

Cold Brew CoffeeI love coffeehouses.

Love is not even a strong enough description for how I feel about coffeehouses. 

I've loved them since I was a teenager in the 90s, years before Starbucks took over the east coast. Back when independent coffeehouses could be found in nearly every town. Back when coffeehouses were a place to meet people, not to sit in front of laptops, earphones in, oblivious to our surroundings.

Opening a coffeehouse was my dream. I came close once, with location prepared, equipment ready, and business plan in place. Last-minute complications with the realtor and business partners brought that project to a halt (thankfully, or I wouldn't be where I am today). 

I spent 10 years as a barista, in four different coffeehouses, in two different countries, and two different US states.

Whenever I travel, I seek out the coolest indie coffeehouses to meet locals. Every town I've ever moved to, I've met the majority of my friends at the coffeehouse. I even met my husband at a coffeehouse, the last one I worked at, my home away from home.

Maybe "obsessed with" would be a better description than "love".

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What Are Cleansing Grains and How Do I Use Them?

March 09, 2017

Cleansing Grain Facial Scrub Facial Mask with Rose and Wild CarrotWhat are cleansing grains?

Cleansing grains are powdered blends of clays and botanical ingredients such as herbs, nuts, and seeds. Sometimes called "buffing grains", they are used on their own or in addition to your favorite facial wash to gently cleanse and exfoliate your skin. Depending on the formula, cleansing grains may also be used as a facial mask, making them an ideal solution for anyone who loves the ease of 2-in-1 products.

Wunder Budder cleansing grains are a blend of fine mineral clays, freshly ground flowers, ground seeds, and specially blended essential oils. Handmade, they are shipped and stored dry, and can be used as both a face scrub for refreshing dull skin and as a purifying facial mask.

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Organic Grapeseed Oil Changes

December 01, 2016

Grape Seeds

I love grapeseed oil for two main reasons:

The first is that it's an amazing, versatile oil for skincare. It's lightweight but emollient, easy to spread, and is easily absorbed. It softens and conditions skin without clogging pores or causing breakouts. It benefits all skin types, and is a good introductory oil for anyone new to oil cleansing or oil as a moisturizer.

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I Don't Always Choose Organic

January 29, 2016

Dried Calendula Officinalis FlowersAs I was working with these beautiful dried calendula flowers, I was thinking about why I never wanted to become a USDA certified organic company.

I sourced these flowers last fall. Although I had been happy with my previous calendula flower supplier (a USDA certified organic source), I didn't like that the flowers were being shipped from the other side of the country. In an emergency, I purchased a small amount of these naturally grown* calendula flowers from a local farm, in New Hampshire, just a few hours from where I'm located. I was so happy with them, I turned my my temporary fix into a permanent change. They're a higher quality, they're local, and even though they aren't USDA certified organic, they're still naturally grown.

If I was a USDA certified organic company, I would not have been able to make the switch. I would not have had the choice. 

I support USDA certified organic products...

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Why We Love Brown Bottles and Jars.

November 12, 2015

Brown Bottles to Reduce OxidationThere are a lot of natural beauty products today packaged in clear glass bottles and jars. 

I love the way these look. The clear glass looks clean and fresh, and allows the beautiful natural colors and textures of the ingredients shine through. It's no wonder that clear glass has become so popular, especially with emerging modern-style brands. It makes a person want to pick them up, smell them, touch them, use them. They're beautiful.

So, if I love clear glass so much, why do we choose to use amber (brown) glass bottles and jars for Wunder Budder? 

Light. Or, more specifically, to block as much light as possible from getting into our products. 

Have you ever noticed that the best quality cooking oils and the best artisan beers are bottled in colored glass? This is to prevent oxidation. Oxidized oils are better known as "rancid" (beer is usually called "skunked"). 

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My Love Affair With Calendula, Part II

November 11, 2015 2 Comments

Calendula OfficinalisI wear contact lenses. 

I have glasses as well, but they never quite felt right on my face, so I mostly just stick with my contact lenses. 

I also have chronic (life-long) insomnia.

If you wear contacts, you may know this already, but if not, I will tell you... insomnia and contact lenses do not mix. Wearing contact lenses for too many hours in a row doesn't allow the eyes to breathe, and wearing contact lenses for too many hours in a row for too many days in a row can lead to serious infection. I know this from experience. Painful experience. Painful experience I did not learn from the first time.

In 2000, I moved to a little town in New Mexico to study herbal medicine

Soon after moving to town, I made an appointment with a local optometrist to get a new pair of lenses. One of my eyes was irritated at the time, but since a year earlier I had a severe eye infection, in comparison it seemed like just an annoyance.

My optometrist did not agree. 

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My Love Affair With Calendula, part I

November 10, 2015

Calendula FlowersMy first introduction to calendula (Calendula officinalis) was in the late 1990s when I was living in Ireland. I worked at a factory as a floater, and would switch between production lines making circuit boards, and testing finished products, soldering wires, folding cardboard boxes for packaging, and basically anything else that was needed. My hands were constantly working, and would dry out easily. Nothing could keep them moisturized, and the combination of using them so much and their constant dryness left my hands covered with tiny cuts. 

They hurt.

Finally, after weeks of dry, irritated, and cut-up hands, I walked to the local herb store and asked for any suggestions.

"Calendula oil!" was the unanimous answer.

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DIY: Herbal Infused Honey

November 09, 2015 1 Comment

DIY Herbal Infused HoneyI love honey.

Light or dark, liquid or crystallized, in my tea or right off the spoon. I love it. 

Not only is it delicious, but it can ease sore throats and coughs from scratchy throats, and many people find eating local honey during allergy season relieves their symptoms. 

During the winter, plain honey can be useful to ease symptoms of coughs and colds, especially when added to warm herbal teas, but becomes especially helpful when infused with herbs.

Every year I make my Winter Thyme Elixir, a herbal-infused honey to ward off colds and flus. While I can't give away all my secrets, I'm going to teach you how to make your own infused honeys that can be added to teas, yogurt, desserts, smoothies, or taken by the spoonful. Infused honeys also make a great gift for family and friends.

Just like other DIY projects, the more you experiment, the more confident you'll become, and the easier it will be to create new recipes for yourself. To start out, I will teach you how to make a ginger and elderberry honey.

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A Quote for You. Yes, You.

November 07, 2015

The Things They Carried by Tim OBrienLast week I was in my local coffeehouse picking up a drink. While waiting for it to be made, I looked at their bulletin board, and among the flyers and business cards I found a small folded up note.

On the front, it said "a quote for you". On the back, "yes, you". I love things like this, so I immediately pulled it down and opened it up.

Here is the quote I found inside:

Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.

Along with this quote was another message; a clue to a second note. A mysterious scavenger hunt! The second note would at my local public library, inside the book the quote was from.

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It's 11pm and I Have Nothing to Write About

November 06, 2015 2 Comments

Blog ChallengesI've been sitting on my deck for the last three hours, thinking of something to write for today's blog. I've been trying to stick with a theme for each day to help keep me generate ideas. Today's theme is Top Five Friday, so I went back and forth on what to write about. I have a few topics in mind, but some require research, and after a full day of work, then a dinner out with my husband, I was only left with a few hours to write, and a few hours is not enough to write anything requiring research. Time for writing a blog today is running out.

I decided to write a just-for-fun blog and tell you my top five favorite Etsy stores right now, but I couldn't pick just five. I chose a theme (botany) and still couldn't pick five. There are a lot of amazing makers out there. Meanwhile, time is running out.

I'm sitting on my deck in a t-shirt and skirt, in New Hampshire, in November. It's 11:00 at night, and just a few minutes ago I put on a hoodie.

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Animal Ingredients Hidden in Your Food

November 05, 2015

Animal Ingredients Hidden in Your FoodFollowing a diet or lifestyle that minimizes or eliminates animal cruelty is not always easy when it comes to prepared food, whether that food is packaged or made in a kitchen. While we can usually find dishes not centered around animals when eating out, the terms vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian are so commonly confused, it's difficult to know whether or not our food has been contaminated. It's always a risk anyone who is a veg/an must take is we want to eat at restaurants, but something we can control is knowing what animal ingredients are common additives in our food.

Even if you don't follow an animal-restricted diet, you might be interested to know whether you're eating bugs or animal stomachs, so you can be aware and choose whether or not to eat them.

Here are some animal-based ingredients, under other names, that are commonly found in food:

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On Being Nice.

November 04, 2015 1 Comment

Never Mistake Kindness for Weakness or Harshness for StrengthI've always been "nice". 

To some people that means kind, to some that means boring, to some a pushover, and to some fake. To me, it's a choice I make in an attempt to make other people's lives just a little less difficult. 

Because, as we all know, life is beautiful but it's also tough. If given a choice, nobody should be making it tougher for someone else.

I'm not always nice. I have bad days. I slip up. I can let others get under my skin and allow myself to be pushed too far. There are times I snap at people, both the ones I love and perfect strangers. Times when I just can't handle any more rudeness from another person. 

But I don't like when that happens. I don't like when I snap.

Letting other people's negativity get the best of me is not how I want to live my life. 

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