Monday, August 29, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Florida Places: Saint Augustine and the Oldest Pharmacy in the US

There are plenty of reasons to visit St. Augustine if you are in Florida, but if you are an herb-lover or antiquarian enthusiast then you won't want to miss "The Oldest Drug Store." For those of you who are not familiar with St. Augustine, it is the oldest city founded by Europeans in North America. St. Augustine's most famous land mark is the Castillo de San Marcos built by the Spanish in 1672. Interestingly the castle never fell, but only changed hands via treaties to French or English.

The city of St. Augustine is full of old world charm with narrow alley ways, art galleries, pubs, coffee shops, and restaurants. A great one to visit is "The Old Drugstore", which is a free museum and also houses a modern herbal gift shop, Old City Remedies owned by Myra Schafeffer.

The Old Drugstore sits at the corner of Orange and Cordova Street where it has been since 1739, built by Antonio Gomaas. The Gomaas family sold liquor, tobacco, medicine and Native American remedies until 1872, when the building was purchased by T.W. Speissegger, pharmacist. Speissegger had previously established his pharmacy in St. Augustine in 1872 in a different location. The Oldest Drugstore is now Owned by the Harris Foundation, which preserves and maintains its collection of medications & tools from the 1700's an onward. In the museum collection you will find countless bottles of castor oil, lavender preparations, a suppository mold maker, old time soaps, tincture bottles, and much more.

Fortunately for modern herbal shoppers, the Oldest Drug Store now is the home for more than a collection of odd purgatives and antiquarian pharmaceutical preparations. Old City Remedies, a modern herbal shop, is housed within the museum. In this lovely little herb shop you will find a collection of beautiful herbs and teas including simples like the antimicrobial, antiviral flower buds of Honeysuckle and anticancer Red clover flowers, as well as a variety of interesting formulations.

Article by Herbalist and Soapmaker Cory Trusty of AquarianBath. Aquarian Bath is on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Ahoy, tis' time t' 'ote for your fa'orites in the Team Fest Monthly Challenge!
Since Talk like a Pirate Day is just aroung the corner on Sep 19th our theme this month was t' present your best Pirate themed item ~
Cast your 'ote for your fa'orite, poll found in right hand side bar. 'otin' ends on August 31th at midnight, argh!

Skull an' Bones Black an' White Bead Bracelet w/ Crystals by Beadloverskorner

Lavender Flax Neck Pillow: Black Multicolor Beachy Pirate by AquarianBath

RRRR You a Twirler by Uptomykneesincrafts

Shark Tooth Necklace Copper Chain Starfish Blue Aqua Beads Wire Wrapped by ReneeBrownsDesigns

APirate Ship Neckloace by Kari1121

Redheaded Mermaid Hand Painted on a Large Palm Seed Pod by Roseartworks
Pendant Beach Treasure Silver Starfish by AudreyGardenLady

Pirate's Booty Tangled chain necklace by LauraStaley

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How to Cure Soap in Humid Environments

Florida's climate can be a bit of challenge to the handmade soap maker. Depending on the concentration of water that a soap is made with it requires 3-6 to cure, or become ready for use. For standard beginner recipes 4 weeks is required. While the soaps cure they become milder and loose water; that is if you are in Florida, you hope they loose water. In Florida summer months the humidity can be quite a challenge for curing soaps and the over all shelf life of your soaps. Over the years I have had some sad losses due to Florida's humidity. If soaps are left out to cure in humid rooms the excess water from the soaps will not evaporate, they will simply stay in the soaps and lead to premature rancidity. In addition to the off smell characteristic of rancidity, rancid soaps will also develop small orange spots from oxidation.

You can offset the humidity somewhat with a dehumidifier, but dehumidifiers can heat up and be expensive to run. Also logistically it maybe difficult to use a dehumidifier depending on the size of your curing area, the type of electrical outlet in your curing area, etc. Also older central air conditioning unit are not designed to dehumidify.

Now I rarely run my dehumidifier, but instead cure my cut soaps in small closed spaces with non-toxic Calcium Cloride desiccating salts. The most readily accessible salts are sold as Damp Rid. You can at most grocery stores or online.

A cabinet or a large cardboard box makes a good place for curing your soaps using this method. If you are using a small container of Damprid, you will want to check your container every couple days for the first week or so in case you need to add more. Also, take into consideration what kinds of soaps you are curing together if you are using more than one variety. You don't want to cure soaps with a delicate floral scents together with woody scents, for example. Unscented soaps can pick up scents from scented soaps that they are cured with when you use this method. Right now, I'm curing my strongly medicinal smelling Neem Shampoo Bars in their own dedicated box away from my regular soaps for this reason.

Hope you like this method. Let me know if you have any questions or experiences curing soaps in humid environments.

Cory Trusty

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Greetings From On Board The SS Tesla 08/07/11

Hello Fellow Team FESTers!

Today I have made my first sale! I am squealing with delight! I know there are many Team FESTers that have made their sales and there are others that have yet to make a sale. Don't fret! You will make a sale if you haven't yet. Once you do make your sale, what next? Well I am here to give you some tips that will help you maintain your clientele and get some new customers along the way:

1. Make sure you write down the correct shipping address where you're going to ship the item. This is super important because if something is misspelled or you write down the wrong state or country, your customer will never get their item.

2. Once you get the order in, make sure you ship the item out as soon as possible, especially when it comes to international orders. International Orders usually take longer than domestic orders but either way, it's always better to air on the side of caution.

3. Get the tracking number of the item once its shipped and then give your customer the tracking number. When you do this, it's showing the customer that you care that their order gets to its destination safely. If there are any problems or if the package gets lost in the mail (it happens a little more frequently with international orders, so be on top of it) you can go accordingly and deal with it according to your shop policies and procedures.

4. If your customer receives the item and they are not happy with it and they want to exchange or receive a refund, grant their request. It's simple customer service and I am a big believer in making not only quality products but also in great customer service as well.

5. Last and certainly not least, give your customers some goodies! Everybody loves getting some extra goodies with their purchases so feel free to give some extra goodies! It's a great way to say thanks and it will have them coming back for more.

I hope this helps everyone out there and remember, customer service is the big key to maintaining customers and have them coming back for more.

Good Luck and Godspeed,
Captain Maricruz

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Our FEST Blog Giveaway for August is a sensational Lily Inspired Dragonfly Hug Ring by MadScientistsDesigns . Mad uses beautiful antique copper to fashion her whimsical jewelry masterpieces. Her creative and lifelike representations are fanciful and exotic and this wonderful Dragonfly Ring is no exception. It conforms to your finger, is adjustable and comfortable with wings that hug your finger and a tail with a fanciful curl.

Mad loves designing jewelry to match steam punk and goth fashion and also is committed to rescuing cats and giving them a good home. She initially started selling on Etsy to help pay for their food and care and this charitable endeavor has blossomed into her wonderful Etsy Shop with so many fabulous offerings such as the Vacuum Tube Necklace pictured below.

HOW TO ENTER: Enter to win by visiting Mad at MadScientistDesigns or any of the FEST Team members in the Member Section. Find your favorite item, share it with us and tell us why you love it. Remember to add your email address so we can contact you if you are the Winner! Winner picked on 09/05/11. Simple and Easy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Florida's Coral Castle

If you are looking for a fun place to visit in South Florida, I highly recommend the Coral Castle. Located just south of Miami, the Coral Castle is the life work of Ed Leedskalnin who worked secretly to build this monument to his lost love. From 1923 to 1951, Ed secretly carved over 1000 tons of coral rock.

He created one of the world's most mysterious accomplishments, rivaling Stone Henge and the Great Pyramids. The castle was made with limestone megalithic stones, the largest of which were bigger than those used to construct the Great Pyramid of Giza. Ed said that he had "discovered the secrets of the pyramids."

The crescent moon on the bottom right of the above photo is one of two crescents behind the moon pool pictured below.

Unlike Stonehenge or the Great Pyramids, Ed's workshop and tools still remain at the castle. The center piece of the work shop is a magnetic fly wheel. Did Ed us magnetic forces to levitate the megaliths? Ed always worked in secret at night. Some kids reportedly said after spying on him that he made the stones float. Things that make you go "hmmm...."

Billy Idol's song "Sweet Sixteen" was inspired by the coral castle.

Ancient Animals

Plants find a home among the stones.

If you are in Florida or plan to visit I hope you will have time to check it out. It is definitely worth a day trip.

Cory Trusty

Monday, August 1, 2011

Greetings From The SS Tesla! 08/01/11

Hello Team FEST Members!

I do apologize for the last post and for not posting last week. I have been going through some personal issues and they needed to to take precedence. Now that everything is resolved for the most part, I am now going to do my Team FEST showcase. How this works is that I pick four Team FEST members and their shops to showcase and I pick an item from their shop that gets the Captain's eye. It gets these members noticed and you get to admire their wonderful work, it's a win win! So here we go:

First Up is the wonderfully talented Houseofglassfl from Tallahassee:

Next up is Glassdesignz:
from Kissimmee

I think I just died from sugar shock when I first saw these! This is some incredible handiwork to make cakes like this out of glass! Be sure to check out some of the other items in the shop too, lots of great stuff!

Our third Team FEST Member showcase is Reivintagejewelry from Plantation, Florida:

As an airship captain, I tend to have a bad tendency of losing my keys. Well no longer thanks to the lovely earrings! I am also a big fan of re purposing items and jewelry so this shop wins in my book!

Our last and certainly not least Team FEST Member Showcase is WhiteBearAccessories:

WhiteBearAccessories certainly knows feathers very well! I love wearing feathers in my hair and they have red?! RED?! This captain is going to peacock herself in style! They also have other colors and combination and items as well so do check out the shop when you get the chance!

That's all for now. Be on the lookout because you could be featured in Capt. Maricruz's Team FEST Showcase.

Good Luck and Godspeed,

Capt. Maricruz

July Monthly Team Challenge Winner!

CONGRATULATIONS TO AquarianBath for winning this months Team Challenge!

The Team Challenge for July was 'Best Wedding Gift"  and Cory's Lavender Flax Neck Pillow Navy Midnight was chosen to be the winner!
Take some time to browse this awesome site and find some really nice soaps, perfumes,  lip balms, lotions and so much more!