How to make Dr. Bronner’s foaming soap – rebooted

Part 2 of 2 of “Dr. Bronner’s Foaming Soap”…  (part 1 can be found here)

Whew.  It has been a hectic time since the last real post.  I’ve been frantically preparing for our first camping trip as a family (read:  throwing everything but the kitchen sink into bins, boxes, and duffel bags in preparation for the end of the world).   The trip has come and gone and I must say, while some of the preparations were just a touch overboard, things went off without a hitch, and we had a truly memorable experience as a family.  Mission accomplished!  But wait -

Before I get lost into the details of our trip, I want to follow up on my post about making “foaming supercharged peppermint magic soap”.  The last tutorial went off on a bit of a tangent, and I promised to keep the follow up on point.  Here goes nothing…

In addition to enjoying the good smelling and good feeling benefits of using Dr. Bronner’s as a foaming soap, you’ll benefit in other ways, too.  A shot of Dr. Bronner’s goes a long way, financially (by using less, you’ll be consuming, and spending, less), philosophically (read a passage on the label at each fill-up), and environmentally (Dr. Bronner’s is biodegradable and the packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled).

Now that you know you need Dr. Bronner’s foaming soap, what ever shall you do with it once you have it??? Here are just a few of the ways that you can use it that I have found, undoubtedly there are many more -

  • Foaming Hand Soap – any flavor, but peppermint and almond are particularly nice
  • Foaming Face Wash – Tea Tree Dr. B’s works great, as outlined in this post by Lisa Bronner
  • Foaming Fruit/Veggie Wash – get rid of the gunk on your fruits and veggies VERY fast with peppermint Dr. Bronner’s; Your produce will thank you for it
  • Foaming Dish Soap – Peppermint works okay, but is not as powerful as full strength; Good for things like coffee mugs; I’ve also used it on cast iron, without ill effect
  • Foaming Baby Wash – use Baby Mild Dr. Bronner’s in the bath tub with your young ‘uns
  • Foaming Shave Cream – a decent substitute for your campsite (or homesite!), if you don’t have a full solution bottle of Dr. Bronner’s; Peppermint works great, and opens the pores right up

[Read more...]

When I pulled in to Nazareth…

This afternoon, the world lost one of the finest drummers and singers ever to take the stage, as Levon Helm passed away after a battle with throat cancer. My earliest recollection of a song, is “Up on Cripple Creek”, and my all-time favorite song is “The Weight”.  Both are everlasting signatures of Levon’s time with The Band.   I’ve been singing and playing “The Weight” to Joe since he was at least two years old.  So, he too has been influenced by Levon in some way.  I’ve even joked, well-sort of, that if we were to have another boy, his name should be Levon.

I recently met a man who grew up with Levon near Helena, Arkansas.  When we met I said, ‘man, you sure sound alot like Levon Helm from The Band’.  He laughed and described throwing rocks at the water tower with his brother and Levon when he was a kid.   He said that Levon was a genuinely good man, and would come back home every once in a while.  He also said that his name was pronounced “luh-vawn” but when he got famous people called him “lee-von”.

I’m more a fan of Levon’s early work with the Band, than the Dylan and post-Band periods.  His singing towards the time period of the Last Waltz is about as good as it gets.  I don’t think he was the primary songwriter with The Band, but he was certainly the voice of it (whether he liked it or not).  His inflection was right on, every time, depending on the mood of the song.   Last year, I watched the Last Waltz (in it’s entirety for the first time, if you can believe it!) with one of my best friends, and rekindled my interest in The Band’s body of work.  To me there is no finer live musical performance than the following rendition of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down“.  It is Levon and the Band at their very finest.

Rest in peace, Levon, and thank you for the memories and music.  You have enriched my world, and the world in general, in a way that is hard to quantify…

Dr. Bronner’s Foaming Soap (or the merits of throwing out your anti-bacterial soap…)

Who is Dr. Bronner anyway??? Photo cropped from www.dr.bronner.comDr. Bronner’s has many various uses around the house.  You can wash your body, your beard, your hair, your kids, your dog, your fruits and veggies,  your dishes, your carpet, your car,  your neighbor’s car – you get the picture.   The main thing to remember:  this is highly concentrated stuff, a little goes a long  way!  You need to use the appropriate amount (and type) of Dr. B’s for the job at hand, otherwise you are wasting this precious and wonderful smelling commodity.  The most basic use of Dr. Bronner’s is for hand soap.  What could possibly be better than plain-old supercharged peppermint magic soap?  That’s right:  foaming supercharged peppermint magic soap!  Not only can this foaming magic soap be used at home, it can be used extensively around the campsite! In this post, I’ll show you how to make foaming Dr. Bronner’s hand soap.

//Begin Rant //

Dr. Bronner’s is not promoted, nor should it be, as an “anti-bacterial” soap.  This stuff is too good to be labled anything but “magic soap”.   It is, however, in the “disinfectant” category of soaps.  According to my extensive research (not!), and the Bronner family’s blogger-mom, Lisa Bronner, anti-bacterial soap kills 99.9% of the “bad stuff” and disinfectant soaps kill 99%.   Big whoop.  Before the advent of “anti-bacterial” soap, what did we ever do?  Lions and tigers and germs, oh my!  You don’t need “anti-bacterial” to have clean hands.  Soap and water people, soap and water.  Sure, if you are about to go into surgery or are a dental hygienist, by all means, anti-bacterial is probably preferable for your given trade, but for the average person at home – why subject yourself to even more chemicals that you cant spell, pronounce, or be reasonably sure of the source?  I personally have no earthly idea where or what labs sodiom lauryl sulfate or triclosan are concocted in.  I can, however, wrap my brain around the origins of coconut, hemp, olive, and other oils/extracts that go into Dr. Bronner’s soaps.  Call me crazy. [Read more...]

Back in the day…part III

This is the third in a three part series.  Check out “Back in the day…” part I and part II here…

Cedar Falls - Petit Jean State Park (photo courtesy RWB)

Cedar Falls - Petit Jean State Park (photo courtesy RWB)

So, this is a site about camping, right?  My last two posts have not had much to do with camping, but more to do with how I came to enjoy the sights and scenery between Tennessee and Texas.  This will be my final “Back in the day…” series post, but the first on my experiences at beautiful Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton, Arkansas.

Petit Jean is situated near the Arkansas River between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, about an hour northwest of Little Rock in central Arkansas.  The park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.  At Petit Jean, the CCC worked to create cabins, facilities, roads, and several amazing hiking trails, which provide visitors an opportunity to view what Native Americans and American Pioneers saw more than three hundred years ago.  The natural features of this park are so numerous and great that I’m going give you the gory details in future posts.  Yes folks, gory details!

This beautiful mountain gets its name from an 18th century French girl, whose fiancé was heading out on an expedition to what was then the Louisiana Territory.  Upon hearing this, Petit Jean cut her hair, disguised herself as a boy, and got a job on her fiancé’s boat as a cabin boy.  While on the expedition, Petit Jean became ill near the mountain that now bears her name.  Before she died, she revealed her true identity to her fiancé.  She was buried on the mountain with the name she had assumed on the ship, “little John” (Petit Jean).  The official Petit Jean website has much greater detail of the legend of Petit Jean, as well as the history of the park’s development.

I got my first exposure to Petit Jean around 1984 or 1985, during summer and winter stays with my dad in Texas.  To the best of my recollection, this was also the place where I got an introduction to camping.  Petit Jean was just far enough away between Houston and Memphis to allow us to stretch our legs for a day (or week) or two.  My sisters and I would hike the trails with our dad, learning about nature, self-reliance, and “roughing it”.  Our camps were never really that rough, but several times I remember wondering if we would EVER make it back to civilization….alive. [Read more...]

Back in the day…part II

This is the second in a three part series.  Check out “Back in the day…” part I here…

The rides back and forth from Tennessee to Texas were long, and on many of those trips, our Grandmother would pick us up or drop us off.  She and my grandfather were heavy smokers, and when they drove us on long trips, I spent a lot of time on the floorboard of the back seat trying not to suffocate from second-hand smoke.  Somehow, both Grandma and Grandpa believed that smoking was only enhanced if the windows were rolled UP, when you lit up!  Yep, Grandma and Grandpa were serious smokers.  Grandma smoked Vantage Menthol 100′s and Grandpa smoked L&M Golds, also 100′s.  After all, the only thing better than a cigarette is a long one, right?!?!?

I’d guess that they each smoked  close to two packs a day at their  peak.  That’s one every 24 minutes, folks.  Try it sometime, and you’ll feel like you’ve gone to hell – and smell like it, too!  We begged them to quit for a long time, and eventually Grandma did quit, when my sister told her that she couldn’t smoke around her first born.  Grandpa, who smoked where he pleased, when he pleased, was even relegated to the back-yard when he wanted to smoke after that first great-grandchild came along.

Wonderland of Lights - Marshall, Texas

Image courtesy

On our last trip down memory lane, we were in Jefferson, Texas at the Hamburger store.  Next up in among my favorite memories of yesteryear travels are the ‘Wonderland of Lights’ in Marshall, Texas.   Like Jefferson, Marshall is a small town along US 59.  In the mid-1980′s, Marshall city leaders worked to increase economic activity in the area and eventually came up with a plan to hold a Christmas light festival, now known as the ‘Wonderland of Lights’.  This festival is held annually, beginning around Thanksgiving through Christmas and boasts ALOT of Christmas lights, and brings ALOT of people to this otherwise, fairly small, unassuming east Texas town.

My Grandma was a BIG fan of Christmas decorations and lights.  She had all kinds over the years, white single mini-lights, several colors of icicles, and my personal favorite – the big multi colored ones.  There were several years, she would just leave them up for months after Christmas had come and gone.  I used to love coming home to Liberty in the winter and pulling down her street, only to be greeted by a new variety of Christmas lights.  When Grandma was shuttling us to Texas, she would time it so that we could get to see the ‘Wonderland of Lights’ in Marshall.  While I had spent the first 8 hours of the trip on the floorboard, I would come up for air when we got to Marshall to view the Christmas lights.  The display of lights there makes most others pale in comparison.  When the Marshall Courthouse is lit up, and the windows of the car are rolled down, it was a good time to be a kid. [Read more...]

Back in the day….

This is the first of a three part series.  Check out “Back in the day…”  part II here…

Us at Petit JeanWay back in the early to mid-1980′s, my sisters and I were indoctrinated to hiking and camping by our dad, during our summer and winter stays with him.   My parents were divorced in the late 70′s, and we kids spent alot of time during school breaks commuting on the highways and byways between home (Tennessee) and home away from home (Texas).  I was a backseat passenger on more boring rides through Texarkana than I could even venture to recall.  But those rides also brought a lot of special memories for my sisters and I.

Along the stretch of road that connects Memphis and Houston, the places I remember most are the Hamburger Store in Jefferson, Texas, the Christmas Lights in Marshall, Texas, and Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Arkansas. [Read more...]

Magic Soap

Dr. Bronner's Magic SoapDr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.  The name says it all, huh?  In my very first blog post about gear, I thought I would list the one product that I use every day, camping or no.   According to the bottle, you only need two cosmetics:  Dr. Bronner’s and enough sleep.  This soap is so versatile that I’m going to give it it’s own category and teach you the things that you can do with it.  Isn’t that exciting?!?!

I was introduced to Dr. B’s by my dad.  I don’t know when he first started using it around the house, but I’ve been around this stuff since I was at least ten, if not before.   It was always by the kitchen sink, and NEVER left behind on a camping trip.  I remember getting it as a Christmas present several times.  I used to think that was pretty weird, but I guess my dad was just forward thinking.  Today, I would JUMP WITH JOY at receiving Dr. B’s as a present.

Like with camping, I had a hiatus from Dr. B’s for about 15 years.  About a year ago I saw some in a store, opened the bottle and took a whiff.  As the memories came rushing back, I suppose I knew I was hooked.  There are some things that cannot be genetically denied, and this is definitely one of them.  Counting my dad, myself, and of course Joe, we have three generations of Dr. Bronner users!   Today I was talking to my dad about my addiction to the stuff, and he said there are worse things to be obsessed with, which I guess is true.  Much better than “pills and 90 proof”, as Hank once said.  I wonder if there is a 12 step program for highly concentrated peppermint soap addicts, LOL.

If you can’t wait, head over to to learn more about this magical stuff.   If you can wait, I’ll try to keep up with the demand.  ;o)

Let the ramblings begin….

Why   Some of my favorite memories revolve around camping with my dad and sisters, the Boy Scouts, and with friends in high school and college.  From ages 7 to about 20, I went camping at least once or twice a year, some years it was many more.  Most of my camping trips were in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri.  I’ve never been to any of the big parks, but am getting an idea that it may be something to work up to.  Anyway, for one reason or another, I’ve had a near 15 year hiatus from the great outdoors, and I’m itching to get back.

Also, I’m not Joe.  Joe is my five year old son, who loves people, animals, and experiencing life.   If only the rest of us would be more like that!  Here’s a pic of little buddy and some of his best pals -

Joe & his stuffed animals...

Now that Joe is five, I figured he’d be game to try out camping.  I asked him about it, and of course, he is “all in”, as they say on the plains.  Once the wheels started churning, I realized that camping, like it did with my dad and I, could open up a lot of opportunities for Joe and I to bond.  So, I started plotting and scheming, as dads will do, and eventually the idea came  to me that it would be cool to chronicle our adventures together on a website/blog.

In the end, I hope to use this site as an opportunity to capture some great memories of time well spent with my son, talk about things that work (or don’t) on family camping trips, and have a little place to share our experiences with family and friends.  See you on the trail…