Review: YesterYear Soap Company

YesterYear SoapsI’m a soap girl. I’ve tried numerous body washes over the years, but I just never felt clean from them and a lot of them made me break out. Eeuh. Also, you might think I’m strange, but there’s just something about scrubbing a bar of soap across my skin that makes me actually feel clean. But I can’t use your well-known, typical name-brand soaps found in the soap aisle of the big name retail stores. Those bars dry out my skin or make me break out, sometimes both. Double Eeuh. It doesn’t matter if they’re made for “sensitive” skin or not, so I end up purchasing my natural soaps from specialty stores or wherever I can find them.

Now that I’ve explained my interest in bar soap, you’ll understand why I was very excited when YesterYear Soap Company set me a 3-bar sampler of their soap to review!

YesterYear Soap 3 Pack

The YesterYear Soap Company has an interesting beginning. Cindy O’Neill and her husband Dave transported authentic, dilapidated early-19th century cabins to their 60 acre property nestled inside the Holly Springs National Forest. While creating their frontier town known as YesterYear Lodge, they discovered a soap maker’s kettle in the ruins of one of the buildings. The idea of YesterYear Soap Company became a reality after they learned the difference between the artisan soaps of the past and today’s factory-made body deodorant products.

YesterYear Soaps are handcrafted with natural ingredients like olive oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, organic shea butter, and water. They do not contain preservatives, animal products, petroleum products, or lauryl sulfate. No synthetic fragrances or colorants are used!

They also sell body scrubs made with real sea salt. A 3-bar gift set retails for $12.99.

YesterYear scrub

I also noticed YesterYear Soap Company sells bricks of soap with a bamboo cutting board and cutter for $22.95. How cool of a gift would that be?!

YesterYear Soap Honeysuckle Brick SoapThey also make African Black Soap which is reported to help with skin issues like acne and eczema. I’m planning on purchasing some to try it out as face soap. I’ll let you know how that goes! I’m also interested in the Greek Yogurt soap; the scents sound delicious: cucumber lime, lemon spice, and tropical garden.

Our Experiences:

The first bar I tried was the Cool Fresh Aloe soap. Before this soap, I didn’t have a good association with aloe vera. Whenever I thought of an aloe smell, what came to mind was that green goopy after-sun stuff I used to smear all over my body after I baked in the sun during my college years. I was surprised and happy that this aloe soap has a very light, pleasant scent. After using it in the shower, I could smell the soap on my skin afterwards, but just barely. I like that. I want to smell clean, but not necessarily like my soap.

The Mango Papaya scent was nice but not my favorite of the three, because I’m not a huge fan of fruity scents. My favorite scent was the Vanilla Honey. It smelled light and exotic. All three soaps worked well in that they did not dry out my skin. I even used them instead of shaving cream, and my legs actually did feel moisturized afterwards, like I’d used lotion. Also, none of them left a residue.

YesterYear Soaps

I’m very pleased with the quality of these soaps. After using the aloe bar for two weeks straight in the shower and at the bathroom sink, I would estimate that one bar will last at least four weeks if only used in the shower. A 3-bar sampler or gift set retails for $9.99 and shipping is very reasonable. Personally, I think the price is great for quality, natural soap.

The only thing I don’t like about YesterYear was the Web site. I do think that could use a little updating. Some of the products give an estimate on bar size, others don’t. Also, some products have the shipping listed and even say orders over $30 have free shipping…but not every product says that, and the main page itself says nothing about the free shipping. I think it’s a little confusing. I’d like to see more consistency, so I don’t have any questions about what I’m buying and the price.

Good to Know:

YesterYear Soap Company has been featured in “Every Day with Rachael Ray” magazine, “Weight Watchers” magazine, CBS Market Watch, and the Wall Street Journal Online. I wouldn’t be surprised to see YesterYear Soap gain even more popularity and recognition in the near future.

Want to win a 3-pack like mine? Click HERE to enter! (US only)

Note: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Review: Wooden train pull & push toy by Barry’s Toys

Barry's Toys
Barry’s Toys

When I spotted Barry’s Toys on Etsy, I never dreamed I’d have so much to chat about with Barry Linder, the artisan behind these handcrafted toys and puzzles. Although he now lives in Ireland, Barry was born and raised in Canada, like myself, before moving away. He also spent several years living in Spain, and my husband, son, and I will be moving to Spain in the next fiscal year. Barry is also a successful published author in Ireland, and as a blogger and former military journalist, I envy him that!

Barry began working with wood when he was 17 years old. For two years he restored antique furniture, before starting a 20-year career working on roofs in Western Canada, applying cedar shakes. Barry’s wife was a Montessori teacher, and he often helped her put the toys away at the end of the day.

Combining his love for wood with the designs he saw through his wife’s Montessori experiences, Barry began making wooden toys for his little grandson.

Handcrafted Wooden Fractions Puzzle (Photo by Barry's Toys)
Handcrafted Wooden Fractions Puzzle (Photo by Barry’s Toys)

Barry sent me a wooden train called “Little Smoky” to review. Isn’t he cute?!

Smoky the train
Little Smoky the train

Little Smoky measures 61/2″ by 6″ by 6.” Although the train can be easily pushed along, Little Smoky is attached to a small cord and wood “handle,” so Baby J can pull his train along behind him.

According to Barry, this is how each toy is made:

First I draw the character, usually from a picture on the net or a book. After making the image my own it goes onto the easel and I paint it in acrylics.
I use a company that has very expensive copiers that will take my painting and make it any size that would suit the toy. The image is copied onto very good waterproof paper that holds the colour beautifully.

I cut the picture as carefully as is possible and draw its outline on a handpicked piece of sustainable wood. The silhouette is carefully cut out and sanded. With child-friendly crafting glue the picture is glued to the cut-out. The other side has the outline of the painted picture but painted solid, glued on as well. The rails for the axels are cut out and sanded, drilled for the axels, wheels are made and sanded and attached to the axels using child friendly wood glue. After the toy is complete and sanded again it is sprayed with salad bowl lacquer. After drying it is sanded lightly and lacquered again.

Our experiences:

Baby J turned 8 months old yesterday and has been cruising for several weeks, but he definitely isn’t to the point yet where he can walk independently and pull Little Smoky along behind him. But that doesn’t matter to Baby J. He loves Little Smoky anyway!


Barry's Toys 2

Barry's Toys 3

There are several things I really like about this toy. I like that it’s not made in China. I like that it’s made of wood not plastic. I like the design and colors. I like the nostalgic feel I get from wood toys. I like that it was obviously made with care by someone who’s proud of his work. I also like that the varnish is water based, since Baby J puts EVERYTHING in his mouth. And I really, really like the wood smell. =D

I tugged and pulled on the wheels and nothing came apart, so it’s sturdy. I wasn’t trying to destroy it; I just wanted to put a little pressure on it, similar to what a child might do.

The only cautionary note I have is that the cord obviously presents a strangulation hazard for infants, so I believe this toy is really meant for older children. Since Baby J loves it and wants to play with it, we’ll probably remove the cord and handle for now. We can easily attach the same or different cord later.

Want to learn more about Barry’s Toys? Visit Barry’s Etsy shop or his Web site! Barry has graciously agreed to sponsor a wood toy for the Bellies to Babies giveaway hop Jan. 5-14, so you could win your own gorgeous, handcrafted wood toy!

Note: I received a complimentary wooden toy by Barry’s Toys to review and was not compensated for this post. I was not asked to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed above are my own and may differ from those of others.

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