Miter Boxes and Making Do

Miter boxThis is a picture of the miter box I use to slice my soaps. I slide the long cylinder of soap  into the box, and cut each bar by hand with a wire cutter that slides in the groove on the short side.

A completely unremarkable construction, except for the fact that it’s remarkably ugly. It’s spattered, bent and…is a thing dirty if it’s covered in soap?

Except there’s this: I built this box more than a decade ago. I had been slicing my soaps with a sharp knife, and the pressure I needed to use was hurting my wrists. We didn’t have a lot of money at the time. I used a hacksaw and wood scraps from the shop, some leftover screws.

I created this funny little box on a sunny day, hanging out outside with my daughter and my neighbor Erika, while my son was napping. I had no idea what I was doing, only an image in my mind and whatever tools and bits I could pull together.

I still have no carpentry skills, and I don’t usually pay any attention to the box. It sits on the shelf in my soap shop, ready to do its job whenever I need it. It’s held thousands of bars of soap. It still functions perfectly.

I don’t have a warm homily about tools, or the lasting nature of things, or how we don’t need to be experts in order to create something with lasting value. I was just remembering that day, and trying to calculate how many soaps I must have sliced, how many wire tools I’ve gone through (they always fray and break at Christmas, right after my printer freezes up or I realize I’m out of labels).

I make my soaps on the countertop of an old Beauty Queen metal cabinet unit. It’s not a fancy set-up, but I love it and I’m grateful.

Up In the Garden

My first attempt at a slideshow, some random snapshots of the garden. How it is that I dislike weeding and wrestling with blackberry thorns, and yet I find spending a day in the garden so peaceful? I reap mediocre rewards, but enjoy it too much to care! I guess that’s a perfect definition of a hobby….
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Summer Recipe: Coconut Oil After-Shower Moisturizer


There is no better summer moisturizer than coconut oil. If you rub it on after a shower, but BEFORE drying off, it is softening and soothing. Moisturizing with Coconut Oil, mixed with a little olive oil, cleared up those annoying bumps on the back of my arms.
Try this:
1/4 c. Coconut Oil , melted

1 T. olive oil
1 T. Jojoba Oil

Combine and store in a small glass jar. For an out of this world hair treatment, add 1 T. Argan Oil, apply to your ends, leave in 10 min. and rinse out, shampoo as usual.

Using simple oils and butters to moisturize after showering or bathing means that the oil will mix with water on your skin, and form an instant lotion, bypassing the problem of preservatives. When you mix oil and water, as in a lotion (which is usually 70% water), bottle it and put it on a shelf, it incubates mold and bacteria. The normal solution: add chemicals to the mix, then rub it on your skin!

Not all preservative systems are bad, but it’s an easy problem to bypass–use 100% oil mixes for all-over moisturizing, instead of lotion. Make your own and freshness is guaranteed.

At some point, skincare will get it’s own Paleo/Primal movement, and Revlon’s Colorstay lipstick will seem just as incomprehensible as the McLean Deluxe,. Until then, try this and if you create a better variation, share it in the comments!

Note:If you are in a hotter climate, you can add beeswax (start with a teaspoon), to create a firmer texture.


Ugly Soaps!

SometimDSC00196-1024x768es, a batch of soap gets too thick before I pour it, or the mold sits a little crooked, or something bubbles up….and ugly soaps are born. These are deformed, odd  (and  sometimes hilarious) imperfect results of the process.

For a limited time, add an ugly soap to your cart for only $1. While supplies last!

Welcome to our New Site

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWelcome to the new and improved Fickle Hill Naturals website.  My low-level webmaster skills have finally found WordPress and a few templates, and I hope this makes it easier for you to buy online, and find stores, recipes, articles, etc. It’s a work in progress: email me at to report any glitches.