Meghan Tells It

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Being depressed did not make me “an innocent in hell” November 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meghan Hamilton @ 3:53 pm

Living with a mentally ill husband, I learned, “Don’t argue with Crazy.” Reality is in the eye of the beholder. When someone you love is faced with a reality that you don’t see, it’s ok to let them have that reality. Stop trying to talk the depressed person out of their sadness. Stop trying to talk the psychotic person out of their delusions. Just offer a hug and ask if they need a ride to their therapist’s office.


People suffering from clinical depression are often likened to an innocent in hell by medical professionals and their loved ones. It always stems from a well-meaning attempt to lift the depressed individual from the quicksand of self-loathing and self-beratement. You are not any of those things you say you are. You are not evil, you are not selfish. I know you. You are an amazing person and you are suffering due to no fault of your own. Basically, an innocent in hell.

I disagree. Yes, it was never my fault that I was depressed, but I am in many ways flawed, and so are you. I am not innocent, and neither are you.

The only difference is that those who are depressed feel the weight of their flaws, and the flaws of others (though mostly their own), far more intensely than those who are not depressed.

While deep in depression, I…

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Natural Antacid? November 18, 2014

Filed under: Natural Products — Meghan Hamilton @ 12:50 am
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A few months ago I was out of my usual antacid tablets.  It was the middle of the night.  I had foolishly eaten foods that I knew would bother my stomach.  Boy was I paying for that moment of pleasure!  Even if I didn’t have a young child to consider, stores in my area close by 9:00PM or so.  I was absolutely desperate though.  I couldn’t sleep.  My throat felt as though it were being eaten away by the acid burbling up from my overwrought stomach.  What was I to do?  Ask the internet of course!  I searched for “homemade antacid” and the interwebz didn’t disappoint.

  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 4 ounces of water

Mix until the baking soda is dissolved and drink it down.

I was all set!  I had baking soda!  I had water!  I mixed.  I put it in my mouth!  I gagged!!!!

This stuff is wretched.  But, I was desperate.  I added a few drops of peppermint oil (known for settling stomachs).  I choked the rest down.  It worked!

So, my conclusion is that this simple mixture is very very effective.  It is the most effective remedy I’ve ever tried, even outdoing prescriptions.  But I think that I will have to find myself in another desperate situation before I try it again.

If you are looking for an alternative to store bought antacids and wish to try this, I recommend looking into putting some flavor in it to help disguise the taste of the baking soda.  The peppermint oil helped, but it wasn’t enough to prevent me from buying my usual stuff the next time I was at the store.


What is Castile Soap? (and a recipe!) November 15, 2014


“Castile Soap” has become very popular lately as people search for kinder gentler soaps to wash with.  But what is it?

  • Originally, it was the soap produced in the Spanish city of Castile beginning between the 11th and 12th centuries.  Although soap making has been around for millennia, Dark Ages and Middle Ages Europeans did not regularly make or use it.  The Castilians based their method of soap making on Middle Eastern methods that called for laurel oil.  Laurel oil was hard to find in that region, but olive oil was abundant.  The product caught on and was exported all over Europe during the next few centuries.  It makes a very gentle on the skin but tough on dirt product.  It doesn’t lose its efficacy after months (perhaps years) of storage.  Olive oil is less prone to rancidity than animal fats, extending shelf life significantly.

So, what about the Castile Soaps on the market today?

  • The definition of Castile soap has been extended to include any soap made with plant based products.  Some soap makers maintain that only soap made with olive oil should receive that label.  I myself stay out of that debate, but to save myself some grief, I only label olive oil soap as “Castile Soap.”
  • Generally speaking, although there is no labeling requirement to confirm this, products labeled “Castile Soap” retain their glycerin.  One of the reasons that so many commercially made soaps are so harsh (despite claims to add in moisturizing cream) is that companies often remove the glycerin that naturally occurs in soap making so that they can sell it separately.  Hand made soap generally still has the glycerin for a couple of reasons.  One, it’s not easy to remove in a small scale operation.  Two, why would you want to?  It makes your soap nicer.

Why do we like to use this today?

  • Its gentle treatment of the skin stands out.  I’ve made soaps with other fats such as shea butter and coconut oil, yet keep coming back to pure olive oil for my soap.
  • It is safe for babies.  It may not be “tear free” but even tear free soap isn’t really tear free.  Those often have additives to fool your baby into thinking the soap isn’t so bothersome.  For some people this is worth it.  I prefer more natural products.  Sometimes we think of something safe and gentle enough for babies as not being strong enough to combat grown up dirt.  Castile soap is very tough on dirt.

What about the lather?

  • If it’s made from 100% olive oil, it won’t have a particularly foamy and light lather.  It will have a dense lather that can take some adjusting to.  Commercial soap companies have us fooled into thinking that a light foamy lather is a sign of effectiveness.  It’s just not true.  This low foaming action makes it great for laundry as it won’t ruin modern HE washers.  It’s an important part of my laundry detergent recipe.

How can you tell what kind of soap is in your home?

  • Check the label.  Chances are that if it lacks ingredients and the company can’t or won’t tell you when you contact them, it’s not very natural and it has had the glycerin removed.  Small companies and a few reputable larger ones that cater to the natural products market will tell you just what is and is not in their product.

What is that “lye” stuff you see listed on many soap labels?  Isn’t it dangerous?

  • It was originally made by filtering water through fire ashes.  When you mix lye with fat, it turns to soap.  Today, most of us rely on commercially produced lye so that we know exactly how much we are using.  We want to do this because it is, in fact, a dangerous substance and can cause some nasty chemical burns.  Natural is not the same as safe.  Fire is natural, but it can still hurt or kill you.  Lye falls into this category.  It is a great thing and very helpful when used safely.  It comes in two main forms, sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide.  Don’t let those official names scare you. It’s like calling water dihydrogen oxide or H2O.

What do I use in my Castile Soap?  Here’s my recipe.  It can be used for either hot or cold process methods.  If you’ve never made soap before, be sure to do some research on how to make it.  Whenever trying a new soap recipe, double check the lye calculations.  I like this calculator. Essential oils are optional and can be mixed and matched to your preference.

  • 4 pounds olive oil (I find regular as opposed to extra virgin makes a harder soap.)
  • 20 ounces water
  • 4 ounces sodium hydroxide lye
  • 3 tablespoons lavender essential oil (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint oil (optional, omit if intended for an infant)

Don’t want to make it yourself?  You can buy mine here.


Homemade Laundry Detergent November 13, 2014

Filed under: Natural Products,Soap — Meghan Hamilton @ 2:09 am
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There are many recipes for laundry detergent out there. I looked at a lot and tried a few before settling on this recipe which I came up with.  It met my requirements – all natural ingredients that no one in my family is allergic to, cost effective, easy to make, and very importantly – gets the dirt out.  We are not clean people in my family.  We spill things.  My son plays in the dirt and gets all sorts of stuff on his clothing.  I’m not going to claim that this miraculously gets out every stain and spill, but it does get most of it out and better than some commercially made natural detergents.

So here it is:

  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Washing soda
  • 1 cup salt
  • 3 or 4 oz (approx 2 cups) grated bar soap

Mix the Borax, Washing Soda, and Salt in a bowl.  The washing soda is particularly prone to turning into rocks that need to be broken with a hammer if it gets too humid or wet (or if you buy it in bulk during the rainy season and have it delivered damp…).  Grate the soap with a regular cheese grater.  Add it into the bowl and mix thoroughly.


Use anywhere from 2 Tablespoons to 1/2 cup depending on the level of efficiency of your washer (front loaders take less) and the size of your load.  This is safe for HE washers.

A couple of notes: Washing soda and Baking soda are not the same product.  Make sure you get the right thing or you won’t get your clothes as clean.  This recipe doesn’t include any of the heavy perfumes found in many commercial products, so it won’t cover the funky odor washers get when you leave clothing in them more than a day.  I highly recommend using vinegar in place of your regular softener.  It will kill much of that mildew and soften your clothes.  I generally add cinnamon essential oil and lavender or peppermint essential oil to boost the anti-fungal and antibacterial effect of the vinegar.  Because essential oils aren’t heavy, the scent doesn’t often carry through the drying process. It just leaves your clothes smelling like nothing.

If you’re unsure about what bar soap to use, especially if you are trying to switch to all natural products, you can order any of the soaps I sell here.

This detergent will not always dissolve in completely cold water.  I set my machine to “cool” or some sort of temperature controlled cold water. Check your manual to find out which setting is best for you.  Here are some pictures of the particular products that I use for this recipe:

diamond-crystal-kosher-salt soap borax washing soda


Simply a “Parent” November 11, 2014

Filed under: Family,Opinions No One Asked For — Meghan Hamilton @ 6:55 pm
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Alex at the Beach

I was here and Craig wasn’t. I win Parenting! Right?

I read two blogs this morning about being the “Default Parent.” You can read the original here and another response here. In both cases, I felt a nagging problem with the whole idea of someone being the “Default Parent.”  The first article, published in the Huffington Post made me angry.  The woman unsuccessfully attempted to say she appreciated her husband’s role in their family while complaining the entire time.  The second one fell more in line with how my family works.  Yes, one of us does the bulk of the hands on parenting duties, but neither of us has more or less work to do in the family.  Neither of us is superior or even thinks of ourselves as superior.

My stance on this matter originates in my own childhood and my perception of my parents.  Their roles evolved over time according to who had what opportunities available to whom.  Like many families, my mother ultimately ended up doing the bulk of the hands on work.  I won’t pretend to know how she felt about that.  But as one of the children, I don’t remember ever feeling like this made Dad the “back-up” parent, waiting on standby for my mother to fail to do her job at which point he’d turn on and be the parent.  If my dad was at work when I needed to be driven somewhere, it was so that he and his family would have a roof over their heads and food on the table.  Pretty important stuff if you ask me.  Never did I feel my parents were on unequal footing when it came to taking care of my sister and me.  Both gave everything they had to give to the family, and continue to do so.

Fast forward to today.  My husband and I have a son.  As is typical, I do the bulk of the hands on parenting.  But that in no way diminishes Craig’s role as a parent.  He is always a parent whether or not he is actively engaged with Alex.  He isn’t some sort of back up parent in case I fail.  He is there for Alex as much as he is capable.  No more, no less than me.  We both give our all to this parenting thing.  Like any relationship, it’s not about keeping score.  Who cares who changed the most dirty diapers?  Were they changed?  Good.  Mission accomplished.  Who cares who gave the most rides or kept best track of the schedule?  Did Alex get where he needed to be?  Good.  Mission accomplished.  Who cares who put in the most hours with homework help?  Did Alex get the homework done?  The list can go on and on.  The point is, whoever claims parenthood should be helping in whatever way he or she is capable of helping.

I know quite a few single parents.  They amaze me.  They do all of the things that need doing without a partner.  I can’t begin to express my gratitude for those moments when I was about to fall apart because Alex was projectile vomiting and needed comforting as much as clothes and bedding and floors needed the vomit cleaned off of them.  Craig was right there ready to help out.  Those times when I’ve been sick and Alex still needed feeding and clothing and maybe a ride somewhere, Craig has been all over it.  Single parents don’t have that luxury.  There is no keeping score, because it isn’t a competition.

Craig is not the back up parent.  I’m not the default parent.  We are both parents.  We aren’t in a competition to beat each other to some imagined finish line.  We’re in a partnership to care for this person that we brought into the world.  I’d like to think that other parents are doing that as well.


Soothing Skin Cream Recipe


Lavender Makes Everything Better

I started using natural products and making my own after realizing that what’s readily available in my local stores tends to either irritate my skin, have ingredients that are suspect, or be out of my price range.  This is the cream I use on my skin daily with excellent results.  I have been known to skip the shea butter and use just coconut and olive oil. So if you don’t have access to it, don’t worry, just use 3 oz each of olive oil and coconut oil.  The essential oils, as well as the coconut oil, in this recipe are my “go to” oils and are considered “cure-alls” when it comes to skin problems.

  • 2 oz Olive Oil (extra virgin if available)
  • 2 oz Coconut Oil (organic and virgin if available)
  • 2 oz Shea Butter
  • 10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil (I suggest Lavendula angustifolia*)
  • 10 drops Rose Geranium Essential Oil

Melt all of the ingredients in a double boiler and mix thoroughly.  Store in a container with a secure lid.  In warmer temperatures this can be runny or even a liquid as olive oil and coconut oil have low melting points.

*Not all varieties of lavender are equally good at healing.  Lavendula angustifolia is excellent for healing skin problems and is worth the extra money if that is your aim here.  In small bottles, it can be quite reasonable.  If you’re simply after the scent, Lavendula stoechas is generally less expensive and more fragrant.

Another combination of essential oils to aid arthritis pain would be: Bay Leaf, Lemon, and Tea Tree.  Again, go with 10 drops of each.

Essential oils are generally much lighter in smell than perfume oils.  So if you are concerned about the odor, it tends to fade fairly quickly once absorbed into your skin.

If you aren’t like me (prone to weighing ingredients for these things), 2 oz is approximately 2 Tbsp.  For this recipe, that should be accurate enough.  You definitely don’t want to put most essential oils on your skin without diluting them.  Many are so concentrated that you can cause yourself some problems.  Additionally, not all sellers have the same quality.  I typically buy mine here.  They aren’t FDA regulated, so if you plan on ingesting these for other purposes, find another supplier that is.  For small recipes like this, 1/2 oz bottles of essential oils will last quite some time and be affordable. You can find shea butter here. 1/2 pound should suffice for several batches as that is 8 oz.

If you love the idea of this, but would rather just buy it, send me a message through Etsy or Facebook and I’ll custom blend a cream for you.

I’m not making any money by linking to SoapGoods.  I just really like them.

Disclaimer Notice – The statements regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information on this Web site, including any links to external sites, testimonials given by customers, or in emails is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice and care of a licensed medical professional in the country, state or jurisdiction in which you reside. These statements have not been assessed by the FDA . Any information provided is not intended to replace medical advice offered by a physician nor should this information be used to treat any health problems without first consulting with a physician or pediatrician. Use as instructed and if your condition persists, see your physician.


Marketing Myself – A Pep Talk November 10, 2014

Filed under: Business — Meghan Hamilton @ 4:24 pm
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She’s cheering me on when I get discouraged.

I know my products are very good.  I know people will like them if they try them.  I don’t want to have to go around telling people to try them.  But how else will they know how wonderful my products are in a culture glutted with advertising for other people’s products?  One of the most difficult aspects of running a business of my own is my insecurity combined with introversion. I don’t want to actually talk to people in person to sell my products.  It’s draining for me.  But I don’t have the money to hire a salesperson and I know from past retail experience that I am good at it when I do put the energy into it.

Over the weekend, I was invited to participate in an open house hosted by another crafter.  I did pretty well with sales considering I don’t yet have regular customers of my own.  That did a lot to settle my insecurities.  I know in my head that I need to get on the craft fair circuit to get my name out there.  I just dread the way those events drain me of all my energy, leaving me a cranky mess for my family to have to deal with later.  Even as I write this, my brain is spitting out more reasons not to do craft fairs.  But how will people find my website if they don’t meet me first?  Try searching for “handmade soap” online.  I got 562,000 results.  If I want to stay at home as my ultimate goal, I’ll have to spend time out in the world.  (Yes, this blog is about giving myself a pep-talk to do what I have to do.)

As part of marketing, I’m struggling with packaging round soap.  People respond to being able to see and feel and smell it without any wrapping in the way.  But it needs some kind of label.  Squares and rectangles are easy to wrap a band around without it falling off yet leaving the ends open.  Round soaps slip out way too easily.  Yet in terms of actually using the soap, the round discs are so much nicer.  They fit in your hand nicely.  They don’t break into pieces when you get to the end of the bar the way rectangles do.  So, my options seem to be, compromise on shape, compromise on packaging, or find a brilliant new package.  Truth be told, I detest the packaging process.  Once I get it settled, I’m sure I won’t mind so much, but right now it’s a major pain.

One of the things that’s different about my soap is the scents are very light.  To me, this is a wonderful thing.  And other people like that idea in theory, but when they smell mine next to another maker’s who uses heavy scents like patchouli, they go with the heavier scent.  So, do I keep trying to find a market for the light scents or do I keep the soaps for myself to give away as gifts and abandon the idea of selling it altogether?  I don’t mind working hard and trying to find the right way to do this, but I only have so much time, energy, and money so I need to discern between ideas that will work and ideas that need to be laid to rest.  For now, I’ll keep at the soap.

Realistically, I’m seeing that this crafting business is a more a labor of love than a labor for profit.  However, I am still determined to make money at this.  Feeling my way through this is incredibly challenging.  I’m up for the challenge.

Watch my marketing evolve here: Meg In Stitches

Or here: Facebook

Give me a like or a favorite on those sites to let me know you like what you see.  Maybe even order something.  And if you’d like to speak to me in person before buying, I’ll arrange for that.