Thursday, May 17, 2007

Something worth collecting (and I smell divine!)

I've married (to use the word loosely) into a family of collectors. David isn't an intentional collector (unless you count cookbooks and rugby shirts). But his Mom, brother, and sister-in-law are all collectors at various stages of their collective illnesses (sorry!). His Mom collects depression glass and loves shopping for various antiques. His brother is a geo-phile who collects ammolite (a rare gemstone) and petrified wood in the wilds of Alberta. But his biggest collection by far is Coke memorabilia, action figures, old signs and bottles and the like. His sweet wife collects tea pots. And like any sane woman, has a fetish for handbags.

David and I are the ones without a collection. Sure, I have a lot of books, but like David's cookbooks and cooking magazines, mine is accidental. I have a lot of pottery from my travels, but it doesn't constitute a collection in my mind. However, I've begun to notice that there's a certain item I can't stop admiring and buying - soap! Luckily, soap's a disposable item that never gets a chance to lay around and get dusty, and I wouldn't have it any other way! I buy it to use it and wish I could shower more often.

Yes, I've fallen in love with soap - bar soap that is (there is no liquid soap in my house except at the kitchen sink). My favorites are the custom, organic, all-natural, homemade kinds, though I also have a penchant for the elite European luxury stuff!

I don't know why precisely bars of soap appeal to me (considering I have eczema on my hands and have to be super careful about what I put on my skin!). I guess it is the girliness of it all- the gorgeous scents, the shapes. I love the rough-hewn shapes, the fancy smooth ones, and all the cliche little shapes like sea shells and robin's eggs. I like soap cut from a slab, and soap with little bees stamped on the front, and soap that smells like almonds and cloves and calendula and...the choices are endless!

$6 for a little heaven in the shower.

Ok, I will admit that many *gourmet* soaps are ridiculously expensive. I am very discerning. I won't pay more than $10 (usually) for a hefty bar, and $8 is my usual limit. And I don't use the stuff with scratchy bits. And I don't agree that just because an ingredient is "natural" it's good for your skin (lemon is an acidic no-no for the face!).

The saving grace of my gourmet, custom soaps is that mostly they don't flare up my eczema. For years, I've done "scent-free" - using unscented laundry soap, dryer sheets, body lotions, unscented facial moisturizers, minimal make-up. Anything and everything seemed to keep my hands and face in dermatitis-hell. Commercial soaps were often bad due to strong perfumes (or preservatives?), although I still love Dove Unscented! And mainstream cosmetics - forget it! Even the natural-looking pseudo-pharmacy line Kiehl's is full of perfume and makes my face red and raw. Their super-sensitive line is so strongly scented I threw the sample out without even bothering to put it on my face! So I put almost nothing on my face, but at least now I can wash my body with earthy-scented things and not break out in welts.

My preferred soaps come from the farmers markets - like my favorite
Kogi Naturals. I love Kogi soap and the prices are good, about $4 for a good-sized bar.

I also love some of the expensive French milled soaps, even the ubiquitous Pre de Provence, especially their cucumber one!Another favorite is Lothantique from Provence. Their soaps are expensive, but the scents are d-i-v-i-n-e!

When I was last in Provence, I brought home a suitcase-full of soap and soap presents for everyone (who didn't seem so impressed - I guess they don't get my obsession!)

There are a many brands that catch my eye but I am discriminating! I like a subtle, interesting scent, a good cost per weight ratio in my bar, and often fall for insanely beautiful packaging (although I like Kogi's simple rustic enviro-conscious design too)!

So if you ever need to buy me a gift...something small and (relatively) inexpensive will suffice!


  1. OOohh good collectible ;) I have to say I do prefer shower gels over soaps, but I just got some yummy soaps from smell divine!

  2. HELLO! YUMMY YUMMY. Lavendar, basil. oatmeal. Oh, how the nose will tolerate a few of those scents.

    By the way, did you take that beautiful pic on top? It is absoultely gorgeous. Whjere is it?

  3. I share this obsessive collecting of soap...once upon a time, an ex-boyfriend used my shower and when he came out, he said, "What's with all the soap? They look like little candies, good enough to eat!" LOL.

    BTW, LOVE the redesign! Gorgeous photo for your header.

  4. Mmmm. soap.

    I find Alberta so blastedly dry that a highly moisturizing soap is essential. I too love a good chunky bar of the homemade stuff.

    Have you ever tried any of the 'kiss my face' bars? I am so in love with this stuff it is ridiculous and at 2.49 a bar it fits any budget!

    Also, our tastes are in sync with Kogi - I practically bathe in the hemp body lotion.

    Ahh, cheers to smelly feet and underarms.