The FDA Isn’t Trying To Ban Artisanal Soap.

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I’ve seen this and similar articles floating around facebook for a day or two and really need to say something. They make wild claims about corrupt senators, “Big Soap”, and something about forcing us to use “toxin” laden bath products. First off, the FDA is not trying to shut down artisinal soap makers. The FDA is probably in the pockets of anyone with a big enough checkbook(just like we’ve seen in every other department of government), but the senators who co-authored this bill aren’t and have no affiliation with the FDA. They are trying to regulate small bath product producers, but they are also trying to regulate the entire industry in a more consistent and contemporary way.

I read the actual bill and it looks to be a good thing for those of us producing bath and beauty product for sale. Sen. Diane Feinstein D-CA was a cowriter and the text of the bill can be found HERE. Feinstein is a strong proponent of cottage industry and spoke strongly in favor of California’s Cottage Foods Act a few years ago. What she is trying to do is legitimize an industry that already exists in our homes and to give us regulations that will discourage others from barring us from doing what we do. Some of those regulations are simple things like registering your facility every three years so that they can be inspected should a complaint arise. The new law will also allow us to use the FDA’s national product recall registry should we need to, as well as ensuring that we pay the proper taxes to fund said program.

Fat and the Moon is just one small producer who won’t be adversely affected by this law despite selling her products internationally. Click photo for more about Fat and the Moon.

And honestly, I say “we”, but it probably doesn’t even apply to most of us since the gross revenue over 3 years must exceed $500k for a registration to be mandated. That means an individual soap-maker could be making a six figure income off only their home business and would still fall outside these regulations. I can’t think of a relevant one-person business that turns that kind of cash, can you? This bill will mainly affect small business owners who have 2-3 full time employees. These are folks who supply national chains like Whole Foods and Nob Hill Foods with their artisinal bath products, rather than those with a farmer’s market booth or an Etsy page.
The same bill also calls for stricter regulations for big corporations and better labeling practices. This bill seeks to update regulations that are 75 years out of date. For example it sets forth animal testing alternatives, specifically allows for the review of certain previously exempted chemicals, and requires health and safety warnings for adverse affects in not just the general user, but also for specific populations such as children, pregnant women, etc.

I make salves and pomades myself. Check them out!

Personally, I want to see this bill to pass. I hope, now that you’ve got a better understanding of what the bill really says, that you want it to pass too.

Have You Met My Boyfriends?

No, that’s not a typo up there. I really do mean boyfriends. And today is our second anniversary.



From the left: Michael, Freya(that’s me!), and Steven

Our relationship isn’t conventional, but it’s not totally out of the ordinary either. We live together, we shop for groceries together, we take each other to doctors appointments and we go on vacation together. We have interests we share and hobbies we don’t. I cookout  meals, Steven sews like a madman, and Michael is the handiest of men. We arent that different from other relationships. And we are polyamorous.

I try to keep this blog to posts that all people of differing mores and ideologies can enjoy, but I was inspired by my friend Cat, when she wrote about sharing controversial posts

Though that was from a little while back, I was reminded that I’ve been meaning to do this when we were out at Fisherman’s Warf this weekend to celebrate. Michael and I both kissed Steven on the cheek when we went of in search of drinks and left him talking to a shopkeeper. Neither of us hesitated- it was completely natural- but I was reminded that people sometimes don’t think it’s normal by the look of surprise and confusion on the mans face as we walked away. We are fortunate that this is San Francisco and the man needed barely an explanation from Steven before he shrugged it off. We’re blessed to live in a place where we don’t usually risk violence by kissing the people we love in public, and where the looks of bemused acceptance so vastly outnumber confusion and disgust that I usually can’t remember the last negative reaction we’ve gotten.

The anniversary of meeting one of my two sweethearts was the perfect opportunity to come out to you, my readers. This is who I am. This is who I love. And I intend to keep them around as long as they will have me.

We Go With the Flow

This is a brief update to my recent post, Covered in Bees.

I’m a bit late since this was a busy work week for me, but I really wanted to share a bit about my follow-up entree into the hive. As I mentioned before, I needed to go back in to place a new honey super and make room for the booming population in my small hive, and take advantage of the warm weather.

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As it turns out, the nectar flow is in full swing! Even more so than I had originally anticipated. That seems to be the theme of the month when beekeeping is at hand. Last week I put two foundationless frames into my hive to replace the frames of honey I was removing. I also really wanted to see how my bees handled building natural comb. I pulled the outer of the two frames and say this:

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I think, “Cool! It’s only been 5 days and they are fervently building comb!” Then I pull the next one that went in next to it and almost dropped it in surprise.

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I hadn’t expected the weight of it! It was totally drawn and already mostly filled with nectar on both sides with bees working away at it. I replaced both, replaced the excluder and stacked on a new box with some regular frames and some without foundation to see what they would do with it. I’m planning to go in three weeks from now to inspect and I’m hoping for an extraction in four.

The nectar must flow!

Covered in Bees!

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After work yesterday, I checked the weather and discovered it was still well above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. So, I rushed to my mother’s house and got geared up to go into my hive for the first time since last June. I had no idea what to expect, and I was going in alone. In the past, I’ve been the only person working on the hive, but have always had a remote helper to hand me tools from the patio, or take photos. This time no one was even home. I was pretty anxious, but deeply determined to go into my hive.

It was hard. I have an anxiety disorder and recently cut back on my medications in an effort to learn to cope without dampening all of my emotions. This was one hell of a test of those coping skills to be sure, and I’m very proud of myself for how well I did given the circumstances.

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My original plan was to remove at least two frames of honey if they were doing well, replace those frames with empties, and add a queen excluder and honey super. I didn’t quite manage it, but I did fairly well I think, given my relative inexperience. Sadly, I crushed a far more bees than I would really like, and I’m still a little panicked that I could have possibly killed my queen. It’s very unlikely, but fear isn’t always rational and I’m so invested in this give that I think I would be devastated if I was responsible for its collapse.

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The reason I wasn’t able to complete my mission is that I got stung, which spiked my adrenaline. At first that adrenaline was a much needed kick in the pants, and I pulled the frames I intended to remove and replaced them with blank ones. Unfortunately the adrenaline crash that followed, hit me hard. I got shaky and nauseous to the point that I had a hard time even putting the excluder on, and putting on the next box was just impossible. I decided the best thing I could do was to close everything up and wait until Friday to place the new box.

I’m glad I did too because my body was so overwhelmed by the chemical rush that I fell asleep on the couch right after getting my suit off, leaving my two precious frames of honey outdoors! Later, I went out to retrieve them and found them covered I bees, desperately trying to retrieve any honey they could despite it being after dark. One of the frames which had only been filled and capped on one side was light enough that I was able to bring in by myself. The other had to wait until my mother got home so I would have a second pair of hands to handle the heavy frame while I brushed all the bees off.

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Now I have them uncapped on one side each, draining slowly into a big steel tray. I considered cutting out all the comb and crushing it to get my honey faster, but I just couldn’t bring myself to destroy all the hard work my bees put into building the comb. I’m hoping it will be drained by tomorrow so I can give my bees those frames right back… And because I want my honey!!

Now, I may be writing a very dry post about what I did, but I’m actually giddy at the prospect of having my own honey finally. These bees have had it all to themselves for a full year! I’m ready to get something back on my investment here and with the rate at which me and mine all suck down honey, I’m hoping for some really great harvests this year!

I just hope my new roommates don’t mind it too much. I just moved into a new house two cities over and I don’t actually want to drive my roommates nuts.

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They Grow Like Weeds

Despite odds being 50/50 for sex on chicks I’ve hatched myself, I always name them all with girls names. It’s my own bit of superstition, but genetics aren’t much influenced by superstition and as such in fairly certain I have two pullets and two cockerels.

Our pullets:

Felicia

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Idris

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And our bold young cockerels:

Milo (formerly known as Milla)

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And Finally, Dame Edna (whose name doesn’t need changing)

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Teenagers of all creatures look equally awkward. Add to it that Idris and Edna are surprise frizzles and the awkward trips from gangling into clownishly cute! I will be heartbroken if we end up needing to part with either Milo or Edna. They are mere weeks old, and they already feel like family.