When we moved into our new place last summer, our friend Maria came over with a simple, sweet, and perfect housewarming gift for our bathroom: soap. It came from purepeace, a shop in Edgewater specializing in yoga, salon services, and organic products. The shop is owned and run by Maria's mother, Cherie Bianco, who began this line of products called "Medicine of the Prophets," recalling ancient exploration of the medicinal powers of essential oils. Bianco handmakes all of the products herself, including our housewarming soap. Made from grade A pure extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil and a kosher vegetable glycerine, it's gentle enough for the face, bath and shower. We left ours out as handsoap for two reasons: we thought a housewarming gift (however temporary) should be shared with our guests, and we tend to have dry, cracking hands even in the summer.
Within days, our hands were healed and all blissed out -- either by the oils and glycerine or by Bianco's blessing as she makes each batch (or both?). The soap lasted much longer than any other bars we've tried, our cracked fingers have not come back, and the essential oil fragrances are divine (frankincense, rose-absolute, sandalwood, lavender, tangerine, lime, jasmine). Running $2.50-$10 (.5 oz.-5.5 oz.), we expected handmade soap this good to run a lot higher. Bianco also sells shampoos, conditioners, body creams and scrubs, which you can bet we'll be trying soon. (Thanks, Maria!)