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Staying Home for the Holidays

For a few minutes on a lovely, unseasonably warm November day, I step out of my car at a park out of an urge to be near other humans…To be momentarily connected to strangers without any interaction.

With paperwork in hand, I perch myself sidewise on a bench between a walking path and playground, leaning my shoulder against the backrest.  With the halfhearted intent of getting a bit of work done in the beautiful afternoon air, I feel stumped.  I’m simply not feeling it.

 In what would otherwise be a social setting, I observe everyone around me separated and keeping to themselves. Singles, couples, and all the way up to a whopping four humans in some cases, participating in their own private corners, like small clusters of distant light in the universe.

Some groups or singles wore masks, others didn’t, but all kept their distance. Unless they arrived together, no one got closer than about 10 feet.

I watch as four children play on the playground, but only with their siblings or parents. Each child cluster on a completely separate play equipment set than any other cluster. Not crossing paths. Not interacting like kids normally would. And I, myself, avoiding sitting on the swings or climbing across the bouncy rope bridge that I normally wouldn’t think twice about.

Some people are walking their dogs, others walk or jog. Two people play tennis with each other at the tennis courts beyond the playground and another shoots hoops on his own.

It’s not a terribly unusual weekday sight, but not quite normal either.

I wonder if my strange version of seeking out some human connections is truly useful, or if it just leaves me longing for something more…human.

I have been enjoying the world while I keep working, keep busy, talk to people through machines, work on my garden…  

I practice self-care as often as I can… or remember to.

I have my bubble of humans that I get to interact with physically. Close family, it’s small, but often enough.

Phone calls, Zoom, and other distanced social behavior helps fill in some of the void.

What really brought me here today was the prospect that we are only a week out from Thanksgiving and a month from Christmas.

I know that the Earth will continue to do its thing and keep turning, and we will move forward with it and find a place with safety, connectedness, and vaccines ready for the masses. I realize next years’ holiday season will likely be as usual and uplifting as those of the past. Maybe more so because of this year.

But this one…for this one, I will need to be content with spending it with a limited crew, and attempting to digitize a portion of my world and holiday time to include as much of my normal holiday relationships as I can.

I imagine it makes me ponder why these particular events hold so much more importance to us…to me. Is it the shorter days? The cold that keeps us indoors more? If in the southern hemisphere, would I feel the same? Is it the winds blowing in seasonal scents and thoughts?  The need for the hugs/touches/just plain human interaction…not at a distance?

Why should the world suddenly seem just a bit harder to manage in the pandemic now than earlier? My own routine hasn’t changed that much from then to now. Though my holiday plans will be different.

Maybe it’s all of that, maybe it’s none of it.

Sitting here watching people continue to do their thing…exercise, talk, even the children playing, I expect that even this strange holiday season will bring its own light and beauty into the world.

And So…here I sit, on a bench in a park.  Alone.  Watching strangers pass by at a distance as the sun peaks through the clouds, and I am beginning to look forward to what promises to be an odd, interesting, and creative holiday season. And I smile at the promise of the future that will come beyond, with the New Year.

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Reuse, Pass It On!

Ok, so it’s something my dad taught me. It’s probably a depression era kickback idea, but it can do some good in multiple ways.

My dad has always had what my brother and I have referred to as a box fetish. No, it’s not actually anything kinky or weird that way…he just seems to collect boxes.

Over time, I’ve begun to understand the thought process. They could be useful for when you need to move, ship gifts, ship sales products, put away off season décor…

My dad grew up with a grandfather that thought a good use of time for grandsons was to straighten bent nails so that they could be used again. Very much depression era recycling.

So, over the years, we convinced dad to at least cut down the boxes, so that there was a smaller space of flat boxes ready to retape rather than a full wall of empty, but ready to use boxes.

Though not all could be cut down as there have always been a few to hold packaging. There is a box to house crumpled butcher style paper, another with the old school packing peanuts, another full of bubbles, and of course a box of biodegradable packing peanuts.  

As I got into business for myself, I began to understand his box collection as an interesting take on being dedicated to the reduce, reuse, recycle cause.

We never threw away packing materials, but anytime something needed to be shipped we used whatever box and materials best suited the shipment.

So far, we have been able to keep our packaging wall in check with this process.

I therefore ship out packages with whatever shipping materials I have on hand. If I am sent recyclable materials, I give them a second life by reusing them to send out to my customers. 

If I receive low or no recyclability packaging, I fret not, I simply reuse these as well in an effort to reduce waste.  All materials I receive get a second life in heading out to the next destination.

I do not purchase materials that cannot be recycled as I don’t want to encourage their production particularly. More important to me though is that they do not end up in a landfill because of me.

Certainly, new materials will need to enter the cycle periodically, but I feel my strategy is a great step in reducing waste.

So here comes the pass it on… Maybe the next time you receive a package, instead of throwing away the packaging material, reuse it instead.  If you don’t have room to store it, or have a need for the material, maybe find a local company (potentially a small business) that could use them.

In the current economic situation, a few gifted materials could be the saving grace for a company having a rough time with the COVID-19 economy.

Plus – Bonus! – you just helped the planet by keeping these materials in circulation rather than in the dump.

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Staying Positive in Pandemic Isolation

Yes, self-isolation is a wild ride. There are ups and downs: way less wear and tear on vehicles and extremely low fuel costs (even without the cost of fuel plummeting at the beginning of the pandemic). More quality time with family…too much quality time with family…it can go both ways. Fewer obligations… Exceptionally short commutes for meetings.

Of course, there’s also the part with limited social activities, limited people to spend time with, and, for many, limited funds. There seems to be a general tension among many.

One nice thing is that many people are getting used to wearing masks and seeing others with them on, reducing tensions about safety while out.

We are coming up with digital ways of socializing. In warmer climates and summer months, there has even been playing games or socializing across balconies, alleyways, streets, and bonfires. I’ve heard of block parties where each house hangs out at the end of their driveways and chats across the street or yard to the other participants. When faced with problems, we can come up with an abundance of solutions. People are surviving and even thriving in the face of something most of us have not experienced before.

So how does one stay positive?

One way is to keep informed by reading the data and scientific research. Being aware of where things are going and what is known currently can be a big help for some. There are a lot of good resources for data out there. I like, the WHO and the CDC.  If you need more info, check their sources and links to original data.

Some people are trying to find ways of assisting in a solution by sewing masks, revamping technology, offering free solutions to learning and socializing, printing face shields, donating food to the needy….  For some offering what assistance they can gives a powerfully positive feeling.

Take time for yourself.

Be aware of your mental health needs.

Let yourself feel whatever it is you need to feel.

If you’re happy, sad, frustrated, whatever. Find a safe environment for yourself and let it out. Go into a room by yourself, take a walk in the forest, step outside, head to your workshop…  Then sing, cry, scream, yell at the world, punch a pillow, whatever you need to do to safely experience and release your emotions that you don’t feel comfortable (for whatever reason) letting out in the normal course of your day.

If you can talk to someone about how you feel, the simple act of sharing and letting feelings go that way can be quite beneficial.

Another way to deal with emotions…write. Write what you’re feeling. Even if it’s something that you don’t want anyone else to see.   You can shred it, burn it, keep it in a book, throw it away when you finish, or delete it.  All acceptable.

Tip: If you are writing about someone who you often email or in a response to an email, make sure you do your writing in another program. Use programs like Word, Pages, Notes, or even go old school and write it on paper. If you intend to send it to the person, give yourself a few hours or even overnight and make sure what you wrote still fits your needs and is well written before you hit the send button.

Digital ideas:

Digital trivia night, meetings, digital concerts (you can give them or watch them), create your own show, meetup with friends over digital mediums, take a digital museum tour or walk through a national park. Learn something new. Take a class. Teach a class if you have something to share.

Analog Ideas:

Take up a hobby you always wanted to. Try your hand at painting, drawing, photography, grow something, sew something. Learn to cook some new dishes. Finish something you haven’t had time for. Build something.

Meditate, Take some quiet time for yourself. Exercise, spend time outdoors.

Maybe a strange comment for a generally isolated time, but if you are with your family, each family member needs some time completely alone. Even if you are completely alone, taking time to meditate or whatever you need to do to truly hear yourself, be truly in touch with your needs, to ground yourself. Find a way to take a few minutes out to slow down and center yourself.

Read a favorite book. Read a new book. Write a new book. 

Clean your entire house top to bottom. Get rid of your clutter you’ve been meaning to get to. Or at least box it up and label it if it’s meant to be donated or recycled at locations that are not accepting donations currently.

Some places still are accepting donations. Especially food pantries.

Take a hike, ride a bike, try new things, delve deep and find things that make you happy.

Share your accomplishments and brilliant ideas.

You can always call up your family and friends or see them on a digital medium to share and maybe even party! BYOB, and no issues with drinking and driving.

Bonus: When you’re tired, you can just sign off and walk the ten feet to go to bed.

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Sanitize…What are the best options?

I recently received a customer’s query about cleansing products.  I thought I would pass on the brief response since the information would be relevant to… pretty much everyone currently.  So here it is.

In relation to your inquiry about hand sanitizers and the current difficulty acquiring them during the Covid-19 Pandemic…Yes, I can make hand sanitizers. Though currently the prices have soared for both the finished product and ingredients, as many have seen an opening in the market.

Unfortunately, since the ingredient prices have risen, I would have to sell the product I make at a price, I just cannot accept. I realize that the high prices many are selling at is due to the ingredients becoming so expensive.  And while I understand supply and demand, I do not feel that it is appropriate for the price of life saving ingredients to suddenly jump like this.

There are several sellers out there selling finished products at reasonable prices. Many retail stores are (though most physical store locations are often out of stock due to the high demand), and Amazon is currently working to remove price gougers of these products.

I still make and sell soap, which is actually your best defense against viruses etc.

Viable alternative options:

If you are just looking to sanitize your hands while in the day to day operations of your job where you have limited access to water these are my suggestions:

  1.  Ethyl or Isopropyl Alcohol

You can use a 70% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol. These are a widely commercially available %. There are higher percentages available that would also be fine.

These two alcohols are both acceptable and are what is referred to when the CDC says alcohol solutions should be a minimum of 60% for hand sanitizing or 70% for disinfecting surfaces.

Above is the reference for the CDC definition of alcohol followed by a link to their guidelines for covid-19 protection.

The reality is that you can put either of these alcohols into a small spray or other type travel bottle to carry with you as a disinfectant equitable to a hand sanitizer. They are liquid, so a spray bottle, may be the most effective package.

Please note, if you are buying ethyl alcohol (also called ethanol) make sure it is denatured. If the bottle says “rubbing alcohol” or it is commercially available in a store for cleaning purposes, you can use this. If it is drinking alcohol like Vodka, you cannot carry it with you in vehicles as a hand sanitizer, for instance in a cockpit or a car.  

Perhaps more importantly for drinking alcohol, it must be 140 proof to be the minimum of 70% alcohol by volume.  Most have too low of a proof to be useful for Covid-19 related sanitation requirements.

Also of note, both of these items can and often are used for cleaning electronics, but some more pliable electronic components can crack and be damaged by isopropyl alcohol.

  1.  Hand Sanitizer Base Bulk

The link below is for a wholesale company that I find very good. They are currently only selling their hand sanitizer base (just an unscented hand sanitizer that they make) at retail prices in 1-gallon jugs. They make a gel style and a liquid style.

This company, in an effort to avoid contributing to price gouging, is simply offering their product in a quantity that would be useful to many businesses. Their product meets CDC guidelines and I am sure if your company were interested in ordering from them to provide adequate sanitation options for employees, they would be happy to work with them.

If you chose to buy by the gallon from this company or any other. The solution can be repackaged into smaller containers for use on the go.

The main difference between the sanitizer and the rubbing alcohol options will be that the rubbing alcohol will smell more of alcohol and be more drying. You may need to use more moisturizer and/or drink more to keep your skin nourished. On the other hand, there are some moisturizers already built into most of the pre-made sanitizer solutions.

With any of these alcohol-based solutions (even hand sanitizer) if you are using it to sanitize a keyboard or other electronic instrument for example, it has the potential to wipe away any words that are on the item. You could wipe away the letters on a keyboard or important words on an instrument panel, so exercise caution. Or perhaps there can be a cover placed on these items that is sanitized instead.

Hope this helps,

Jacquelyn Uznanski 

All links are sources that I have found to be credible sources. I currently do not get affiliate benefits from anyone clicking links I put on my site.

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Welcome to my fabulously scented world of science and fun!

Good morning fellow soap and bath & body enthusiasts!

While I had planned to launch my blog this spring, I had not anticipated launching it during a pandemic.

Here I was with a list of blog topics and a handful of stories, and I couldn’t.  I couldn’t work on them or post them as planned.

I was paused in my writing abilities by the growing strength of the SARS-COV-2 virus (commonly called COVID-19 referring to a novel coronavirus that became a human virus in 2019) and its hastening appearance on the global stage.

So as a result, my plans to post a series of blogs (after turning in my taxes of course) about use, benefits, how things work, recyclability… have been put off a bit.

I simply could not focus and write on these topics which I know so well. It was not where my mind was. I was thinking of the travelling of the virus and how quickly it could potentially become an issue.

Not too long after, it was a huge issue in our own back yards.  We now know that even in early January, it was already here and spreading.

So, what did I do to alleviate my stress?

I stopped watching the news.

Then, I started delving into the data.

The realities of exponential growth were there for the seeing in the data, even if it wasn’t in the mainstream news yet.

I started looking into what I could do. While I couldn’t get the ingredients for a reasonably priced hand sanitizer (for those in need away from a sink) I could make soap. I ordered some materials and equipment to make more soap and get my additional products online.

Now that I felt in order on product, I began thinking about the wave of information and worked out where the good sources were.

This left me with only one thought:

I could write the info and data into my blog… in hopefully interesting and entertaining posts that inform people based on the current scientific and medical data that’s available.

And so, this is how my new blog will start off. Like Terry Pratchett when he rewrote The Carpet People…not quite what I had originally planned as I am no longer that same person today. While I will still be discussing soap and other bath and body products, I will also be sharing some information about the current world, from a science and data point of view. Since these are the topics able to flow from my fingers it seems like a good strategy for this new world before us. 

My actual plan is to post bimonthly, with the occasional extra post here and there. Due to this new situation, I may end up putting up extra posts when I feel there is additional relevant data that just needs to be written and put out there right away.

I am excited to be sharing with my friends and fans old and new.