Daisy Chain Gifts

Uniquely British Gifts in the Heart of Virginia 

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Hi and thanks for stopping by. These are just some of my musings and meanderings, rants and raves - oh and sometimes I even post stuff about the shop :)

Grab a cuppa, have a browse and please do feel free to add comments - I'd love to hear from you :)

Gill x

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What's New At Daisy Chain Gifts

Posted on June 6, 2019 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (1)


It's been a busy old few months here at Daisy Chain Towers, but not so much with the soap making, but rather homesteading. Why is it, that once something expensive breaks down or needs replacing, so does everything else?


But... we've overhauled the bathroom, and my craft room, installed new filters in the well, installed central A/C (no more messing with window units!), added a porch, finished the sun room, rescued a stray cat, adopted kittens and battled termites! Whew - no wonder I haven't had much time for making soap and posting updates.


Looking at the website and the blog, it's apparent they are in dire need of an update. Then again, so is my whole product line. Maybe its time to overhaul the entire process, create new ideas and generally refresh everything. I'm planning to streamline the product line, just have a few main fragrance collections that are available all year, with occasional limited edition seasonal fragrances just for fun.


One of the new fragrances will be our signature fragrance "Daisy Chain" - lovers of the Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume will find it very similar, although lighter with a hint of citrus. I'm super excited to share it with you, and hope you all love it as much as I do.


One thing I am particularly passionate about right now is trying to adopt a more "crunchy" lifestyle; reduce the amount of harmful chemicals I use around the house and the amount of trash I send to landfill. I already keep chickens but kept them in a large run because I was worried about them coming to harm outside. Since I've stopped using chemicals to kill the weeds, I've been letting the girls out to free-range and they are loving it. Egg production is up and I can't keep up with it. I've been giving them away, baking, and trying to think of creative new ways to eat eggs.


Then I came across a recipe for egg soap, which piqued my interest - you can read it here. Obviously, I need to play around with it, because I try not to use palm oil in my recipes but it looks like it could be fun to try it out... and use up some of those darn eggs!

What is Soap

Posted on December 4, 2017 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

One of the first questions people ask us is “Why should I buy handmade soap from you when I can pick up a much cheaper bar in the supermarket?” Well yes, commercial bars of soap are much cheaper but do you know what goes into them? Or more importantly, what is taken out of them?

 

Think about it. The skin is the largest organ in the human body and most people spend huge amounts of money lavishing creams, lotions and moisturizers on it, and yet ignore the major component of our primary skin care function – washing! Instead of checking the ingredients in our commercial soap bar, we just reach for the most competitively priced that “smells nice”.

 

Have you ever noticed when you wash your hands or face with commercial soap you skin can feel dry or tight? This is because the commercial manufacturers harvest the glycerin which occurs naturally as part of the soap making process. This glycerin is a natural humectant (in other words it pulls moisture to it) and is sold by the manufacturers to other companies for use in beauty products, food products and more.

 

Essentially for them the glycerin is the key product and the soap is almost a bonus item by-product. The removal of the glycerin means that the commercial soap is lacking an important aspect leaving it drying on skin and creating the opportunity for a certain “big brand” manufacturer to promote the addition of 1/4 moisturizer in their bars.

 

In actual fact, handmade soap retains its natural glycerin content meaning that it is much more gentle on your skin and you should notice a real difference after use. Plus, it doesn’t need the addition of any other moisturizing ingredients.

 

How Do I Care For Handmade Soap?

Because of the high glycerin content in both our cold process and melt & pour soaps, you need to keep your soap dry when its not in use!

 

Try to choose something practical like a nice wooden soap dish with a slatted base which will allow your soap to dry out between uses. If it is allowed to sit in a soap dish that doesn’t have drainage, the water left in the dish will just dissolve the glycerin in the soap turning it to mush – still perfectly OK to use but not very pretty to look at in your bathroom!

 

In a moist/humid atmosphere melt and pour soap, due to its very high glycerin content, can sometimes develop a beading of moisture, a “dew” on the surface of the bar. Again, this is just moisture and perfectly safe, its just not very pretty to look at.

 

So, What’s In Our Soap?

 

Our basic soap recipe contains olive oil, coconut oil, water, shea butter, sodium hydroxide, castor oil, and cocoa butter. We use this recipe across all our soaps and just add different butters, fragrances, colors and botanicals to achieve the finished bar.

Until recently we used palm oil as a hardening agent in our recipes, but in an effort to keep our products eco-friendly and sustainable and, due to concerns about the increasing decimation of forests in the Asia Pacific regions leading to loss of habitats for many already endangered animals, we are switching to this all-palm-free recipe and all our new soaps are now being made “palm-free”.

We use the cold process method of making soap which takes a little longer as it needs to “cure” for around 4-6 weeks. We also use a melt and pour base for our novelty soaps; this has a high glycerin content but has already been through the saponification process and is ready to use straightaway – no need for a cure time. Plus it is easier to work with and takes colors better which means we can create some fun novelties with it.

For our artisan soaps we use natural essential oils, or phthalate-free fragrance oils and colors. Wherever possible we use naturally occurring colors such as micas and oxides or even natural colorants such as beetroot powder. All our soaps would be suitable for vegetarians and most would even be suitable for vegans except for our Goat’s Milk or Honey varieties.

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Posted on November 27, 2017 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Do you realise there are only 27 more days to Christmas!! It’s a scary thought. Literally, what seems like only 5 minutes ago, we were slathering on the sun cream and cranking up the AC (apologies to those in the warmer states who are still doing that lol) and now I’m thinking about snow and stockings and how the heck am I going to fit that damn turkey into the oven?!

 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have found myself happily involved in a couple of craft fairs this year and I’m thrilled to be back out there, stretching my crafty legs again.

 

This weekend I have a couple of fairs planned: CRAFTfest, which is a 3-day event running December 1-3 and the Makers Market at the Orange Holiday Village event on December 2.

 

I know what you’re thinking, how do I manage to be at both events on the 2nd at the same time. Well, luckily, the CRAFTfest event is more like a networking event for crafters and is run online so no physical presence required – phew! Instead, I will be tweeting and liking and clicking other vendors pages, Twitter feeds and Instagram albums, sharing new items and gift ideas, oh and putting together a killer Christmas playlist to entertain everyone who visits the FB page. Find out more about CRAFTfest https://craftfest.procraftersguild.com/index.html" target="_blank">here, and if you are a crafter yourself, why not join in?

 

The Makers Market on the other hand I am seriously excited about. I’m hoping for a cool day, not just because I hope my soaps don’t melt, but because people are more inclined to stop, browse and chat if they’re not sweating to death or freezing cold. And I love a chatty customer �� it makes the event so much more fun for me and gives me the chance to speak my potential customers, find out what they like, what they are looking for, what works and what doesn’t.

 

I also think a cool day lends itself more to Christmas shopping; it’s hard to feel festive when you’re still wearing shorts and flip flops, right? The Makers Market is just part of a larger event that encompasses the whole town. Santa Claus will be at the train depot/visitor centre, the art gallery will be hosting kids’ craft sessions, Downtown and Main Street shops will be hosting open house events and all around will be carolers and live musicians playing festive songs as you shop. If you are in the area on December 2 and don’t have any plans yet, I would definitely recommend you come along to the Holiday Village.

Fragrance of the Month... Lovely Lavender

Posted on November 20, 2017 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

When I was growing up, so called “lavender water” was a popular perfume among ladies of a certain age, ahem, but considered a big no-no among the younger set. Basically, if you were under the age of 70 you didn’t wear it!



 

Today, however, things have changed dramatically. Although still not really worn as a perfume, lavender is an incredibly popular herb, not just for its scent but also for its flavour as an ingredient in cooking (think lavender sugar, lavender cookies and lavender smoothies).

 

Why so popular? Well, we all know it’s relaxing properties. Lavender has long been used as a natural sleep aid, simply sprinkle a few drops of essential oil into a warm bath before bed, or for even more impact, sprinkle a few drops onto your pillow as well. You’ll be off to the land of Nod in no time. But did you know lavender has powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties as well? Throughout the centuries it has been used to treat ailments of all kinds including headaches, burns, bites and stings, depression and anxiety, even the Plague!

 

It is believed the Romans originally brought the plant to England, where it remains popular to this day. Queen Victoria required that her furniture be polished with a solution containing lavender oil and also sipped on lavender hot tea when she suffered from headaches or an upset stomach.

 

Believe it or not, lavender is actually part of the mint family. There are more than thirty different species of the plant but almost all have the word lavender in their name. There are three main types of lavender plants that are used to make lavender essential oil. They include lavendula augustifolia (most commonly used in soap making), lavendula x intermedia and lavendula stoechas.

 

Lavender was most likely brought to America by the pilgrims on the Mayflower. The plant was very popular at the time for its natural healing abilities. However, it wasn’t until 1910 that French chemist and scholar, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, first documented the healing properties of lavender oil. Rumour would have us believe his discovery was a happy accident that occurred after badly burning his hand in a lab accident. He “just so happened” to plunge his burning fingers into the nearest container of liquid, which “just so happened” to be lavender essential oil. He noted how quickly the pain disappeared and how his hand healed quickly with little scarring which in turn led him to experiment with essential oils during World War I in military hospitals. Almost true. But not quite. His own journal reflects a more deliberate action on his part:

 

“The external application of small quantities of essences rapidly stops the spread of gangrenous sores. In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped “the gasification of the tissue”. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day (July 1910).”

 

While the incident did not initiate his study of aromatherapy, it was certainly a push in the right direction. Subsequently he collaborated with a number of doctors who treated French soldiers for war wounds using lavender and other essential oils. The accounts of these cases constitute a large part of his text which later became his 1937 publication Aromathérapie and earned him the moniker “The Father of Aromatherapy”.

 

Today, studies regarding lavender essential oil are becoming more frequent as promising results are recorded regarding lavender’s abilities to heal skin, hair and the body. It is used by many as a natural acne eliminator, a hair regrowth treatment, an aid in overcoming anxiety and as a natural alternative to cleaning with chemicals. As more about lavender is learned, its popularity will most likely increase just as it has throughout the years as it proved its abilities to new generations.

 

Did you know?

 

  • Lavender oil a great natural bug repellent. It can safely be sprayed on windowsills and door frames to make an invisible bug barrier.
  • It takes close to one hundred and fifty pounds of lavender to make one pound of lavender essential oil. An acre of lavender plants can produce anywhere from twelve to twenty pounds of essential oil, mainly affected by the weather during the growing season.
  • There are lavender essential oil impostors on the market. When shopping for oil, always check the source of the oil for authenticity.
  • By the 16th century, lavender was being used all over England to help scent laundry and toilets. It was also thought to ward off bedbugs, and was routinely sewn into sheets.

10 Everyday Uses for Lavender

 

  1. I like to add drops of lavender essential oil to padded clothes hangers. Keeps my clothes smelling fresh and keeps bugs out of the closet.
  2. I use lavender hydrosol, also called lavender water, to wipe down worktops and surfaces in my kitchen and bathroom, zaps germs but is safe for kids and pets.
  3. I keep lavender oil in my first aid kit. It is great for dabbing on bites and stings, and minor burns. I also use it on blisters too from too many unsuitable-but-have-to-have-them shoes lol.
  4. As it is one of the only essential oils that can be used directly on skin without needing a carrier oil, I usually massage a couple of drops into my temples in a firm circular motion whenever I get a headache.
  5. Adding a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath can really help with monthly cramps and PMS.
  6. I use the essential oil along with a bunch of other ingredients to make natural toilet fizzers. Keeps the toilet clean and fresh. If you fancy having a go at making your own, I use the recipe on Mountain Rose Herb’s website, https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/natural-cleaning-diy-toilet-bombs" target="_blank">here.
  7. If you are feeling anxious, try a lavender and blueberry smoothie. I came across a recipe on Greenblender.com and it is AMAZING! Try it https://greenblender.com/smoothies/recipes/blue-lavender-bliss" target="_blank">here – and by the way, I usually pick up my maqui berry powder on Amazon but if I don’t have any I just skip it, still tastes great.
  8. Add lavender hydrosol to your steam iron for an extra burst of freshness.
  9. Nervous pets? Help calm those trips to the V-E-T by lightly misting pet beds and blankets with lavender hydrosol. Note: dogs can tolerate the essential oil on their bedding, but I would stick with the water based hydrosol for safety. Lavender essential oil is extremely dangerous for cats and if it gets on their skin can easily poison them. ONLY use the hydrosol around your feline friend.
  10. I use a blend of lavender and peppermint hydrosols in my steam mop – chemical-free cleaning and a fab fresh smell afterwards.

Countdown to the Weekend...

Posted on November 13, 2017 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (5)

And I'm already feeling nervous. This weekend I will be attending my first craft fair in absolutely ages and while it used to be something I prepared for without any problems, I'm so out of practice, my workspace looks like a bomb went off and I have lists upon lists of things to take, things to get ready and so on.


 

Back in the day I used to do craft fairs almost weekly in England and it became second nature to me. I loved the excitement of setting up my booth, chatting to the customers and other vendors, making new friends and hopefully a few sales as well. Since I moved to the US I haven't been as involved in the craft scene, mainly because a lot of the events were so far away from me or prohibitively expensive, or simply because I've been concentrating on other things.

 

But sometimes life has a funny way of bringing things back full circle, and quite by chance I found myself signed up to participate in our town's Holiday Village on December 2 in the open-air Makers Market. Then within a few days, a friend called and said she was taking part in a Christmas Craft Fair at her local church on November 18. They had no soap sellers and was I interested? The rest, as they say, is history and yesterday found me trawling through my stock supplies to see what I had available and making a list of items I would need to make before Saturday.

 

Yes, yes, I know I only have this week, but as my husband will confirm, I am very much a last minute kind of girl. If I have a deadline I'll knuckle down and get it done, whereas if I have plenty of time, I'll slack off, have another coffee and think about it :)

 

I've already done my table plan, so at least I know what I need and how it will all look on the day - white velvet undercloth, teal velvet top cloth, a mix of seasonal items and old favourites, some gift items and some single buy bars, a bunch of my famous $10 mystery bags (what's in 'em? No one knows) along with my new $5 mystery bags - perfect for Secret Santa gifts.

 

So yes, there will probably be a few late nights this week, and right now all I am feeling is panic, but I know as the week wears on the old familiar craft fair excitement will start, the butterflies will kick in and by Saturday morning I will be buzzing and ready to go!

 

Don't forget, if you are in the Unionville, VA area stop by and say hello - we'll be there from 9am to 3pm.


Falling into Fall

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Fall is possibly my favourite time of year. I love the changing colours and the cooler weather... and the extra hour in bed yesterday didn't hurt either! Our Indian summer broke finally on Friday, and Saturday brought rain and grey skies and the perfect excuse to wear my snuggly sweater and stay indoors, curled up on the couch with a mug of coffee and Phoebe the cat, watching an old black and white movie. Ahhhhh!


But now it is Monday and back to work. I'm busy putting the finishing touches to the November box and my workroom smells yummy... all apples, pears and pumpkin spice. Delish!

 

I'm especially pleased with the November box for Pamper Hamper, maybe because of my bias towards the season, but the blend of fragrances all seem to work really well together, from the Apple Orchard bath bomb, to the Pumpkin Spice travel candle to the Cranberry and Sandalwood handmade soap.


Oh and you know what? There's even an opportunity to win a box for FREE! Yep, just visit our https://www.facebook.com/thepamperhamper" target="_blank">Facebook page, like the post, follow us and tag 2 friends to be in with a chance to win the November box.


CRAFTfest IS BACK!

Posted on September 13, 2016 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (2)

Following the success of the summer virtual craft fair, CRAFTfest Pride of America, featuring super-talented crafters from all over the USA, the organizers of CRAFTfest are at it again! This time there's a slightly different feel to the Fall event as it will be combined with the Best of British event to make one big Fall Spectacular event!

The event goes live on Friday, September 16 and runs until Sunday, September 18. With so many vendors taking part it promises to be a huge event, with enough gift ideas and inspiration to check off your entire Christmas list without even leaving the house! And because its only September you get to be extra smug at avoiding the last minute gift dashes - smart eh??? :)

So get your slippers on, grab a cuppa and your laptop (or phone or tablet or whatever), sit back, relax and browse away.

You can get a sneak preview of all the vendors taking part in the online brochure here


CRAFTfest-USA : Pride-of-America

Posted on February 16, 2016 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

We are super excited to have a stall at a virtual craft fair! Yes, CRAFTfest is coming to America! It's already been running successfully in the UK since 2010 and finally its heading across the pond so that crafters over here can get involved as well!

Stalls are available to book now (we've already got ours) and the event takes place April 22nd-24th, so perfect timing for Mothers Day.

The entire event is hosted online so all you need is a link to your usual selling venue; whether like us you have your own website, or you sell on ETSY, Shopify or even Facebook. Literally anyone can take part - you get to network, make new friends, share ideas and grow your business.

Hope to see you there!


Don't be "board"... check out our "boards"

Posted on December 4, 2015 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Yes! That's right, Daisy Chain Gifts is now on Pintrest. You can visit our boards, see our latest items available for sale and also see the crafts and hobbies that have inspired us or simply left us open-mouthed in wonder (and more than a little envy lol).

http://www.pintrest.com/daisychaing0122

Read All About It

Posted on December 4, 2015 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The November issue of the Professional Crafters Guild directory is out! We recently upgraded our membership so we get a mention! From next issue we will also be featured in the directory so looking forward to that!


http://issuu.com/creativecrafting/docs/monthly_directory_-_november?e=1365074/31400823


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