What I'm listening to...

Two recent Vermont Public Radio Podcasts related to cycling in Vermont. I enjoy listening to podcasts while I do production work.

 Click on links to enjoy:

Move Over! Pedestrians, Cyclists and Drivers Sharing Summer Roads - VPR June10, 2019 (33 min)

Gravel Roads Draw International Cyclists - VPR May 13, 2019 (6 min)

Susan Shashok
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Featured in Happy Vermont Blog

Susan Shashok | by Happy Vermont
photo by Erica Houskeeper

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Erica Houskeeper from Happy Vermont. She collects and tells stories of interesting Vermonters. To read her post on me and check out some other great stories of people who live and work in my state, click HERE
Susan Shashok
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Finding the new FDA info on sunscreens confusing? Here's a good article by ABC News that helps.

[Note from Susan: A main takeaway from the following article is that the non-nano zinc oxide that I use is the gold standard for a safe ingredient. Chemical based ingredients other companies may use are either unsafe or need more research to determine their status.]


Mineral Sunscreen - ABC News


ABC NEWS Article: FDA says mineral sunscreens are safe, chemical sunscreens need more research

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working on a rule that could change the way consumers think about which ingredients in sunscreen are considered safe, saying they believe now that mineral sunscreens are safe but products that use chemicals need more research.

The FDA announced Thursday that it has proposed a rule to declare mineral sunscreen ingredients as safe, specifically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The agency said 12 other chemicals commonly used in sunscreens need more research to determine if they're can be officially listed as safe, including oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Two other chemicals will be declared unsafe, but an FDA spokeswoman said those two aren't used anymore in the U.S.

An agency spokesperson emphasized that the FDA is not concluding the 12 common chemical ingredients are unsafe, but that they need more information to decide. Products with those ingredients will still be available while FDA works with the manufacturers to answer their questions.

The Environmental Working Group, an outspoken advocacy group that works to eliminate dangerous chemicals in products, says the rule is a "major win for public health," and pursues changes they've been pushing since they started looking at sunscreen 10 years ago. The group only recommends mineral sunscreens because they say chemicals used in sunscreen can be absorbed into the skin and disrupt hormones, or be inhaled when people use spray sunscreen. 

continue reading the full article or watch the video here at ABC NEWS.

Susan Shashok
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What do you think of yourself?

Susan Shashok | Vermont Gran Fondo

 This is me, soaking wet about 10 minutes after I knew I would DNF (Do Not Finish) the Vermont Gran Fondo bike event a few years back. 
 What was I thinking? I had worked so hard to train for this event and Caroline's Dream was one of the sponsors. 
Torrential rains had washed out many routes and closed all but one road off the mountain back to the finish line. I was riding the short (34 mile) route and lots of super fit riders were passing me as I struggled up my last few hills. I couldn't see out my foggy glasses and my brakes had seized up. I had to walk up the last steep grade.
When the support van pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride, I was thrilled. I sat in the back with two other drenched + muddy women and quietly ate the cookie treat I was saving for after I came off the mountain. I was shaking from the cold and the other women and the support crew helped get my head back on after swimming in my own misery on that last hill.
They dropped me off at a refueling station where my husband found me and snapped this picture. I got a ride off the mountain and to the finish line. I had fun at the after party and put any hesitation of my quitting the event to rest when I saw how many other much better cyclists had also hitched rides to the end. so many DNF's!

 I did my best and this picture has become one of my favorites. I was still smiling and never so excited to sit in a warm, dry car. 
Susan Shashok
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A Very Merry Middlebury

Middlebury Mountaineer Pop Up Shop

Join me at Middlebury Mountaineer

for Midd Night Stroll  Dec 6th + 13th


Pop Up Shop will have:

  • Lip Balms
  • Lip Balm Three Packs (in gift bag)
  • Lip Balm Pocket + Balm Special
  • Large Creams
  • Travel Creams
  • Caroline's Samplers (4 travel creams in gift bag)

LOCALS - You are welcome to PRE-order other items not listed and I will have them ready for you on your chosen evening. Email susan@carolinesdream.com, or call/text (802) 388-5458. Enjoy both the event discount and my free gift with every purchase.


Dec 6th:

Middlebury Mountaineer will be hosting a Darn Tough Sock Sale, 15% off Patagonia clothing, a raffle to win a free pair of Blundstone Boots ($185 value), beer tastings from Drop In Brewery. 

Dec 13th: 

Middlebury Mountaineer will be hosting a Darn Tough Sock Sale, free gift with purchase of Kari Traa Baselayers + Prana Clothing, raffle to win a free pair of Glerups Wool Slippers ($135 value), beer tastings from Drop In Brewery. 

Susan Shashok
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Community Benefits


I wanted a wool poncho for this coming winter but I do not knit. I saw quite a few online but they were expensive and not the styles or colors that I wanted. I shyly asked one of my friends to take on the project and she said yes! I was only too happy to pay for supplies and her time to get exactly what I desired.

Win-win is how business consultants would describe such a situation but I think of it more in terms of a healthy community. We all have talents and skills to offer our friends and family and there is no reason to reinvent the wheel everyday. I certainly didn't need to learn to knit to get my new poncho. 

I have a few customers who like to make their own skincare and I encourage them to do so. It takes alchemy and precision to successfully mix oil and water to make a moisture cream. So satisfying to get it right! But they don't always have the time to make their own and I am glad that they turn to me to fill in the gaps. 

I love that my skills go towards taking care of a large community of people - all of you! It is important to me that these products nurture both you and your skin. I know you deserve that in these busy times and I work hard everyday to make the best skincare possible. 

It is my pleasure to offer my skills in our community!


Susan Shashok
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Outdoor Adventure Skincare is official!

The new labels arrived on Friday so my mineral based sunscreen is ready for it's close up. Mineral based sunscreen - zero waste options | Caroline's Dream

All the ingredients have their own natural sun screening properties but it's the non-nano zinc oxide that takes it to the next level. Non-nano means the particles are large enough that they do not penetrate the skin surface. This maximizes the sun blocking factor and you won't have any zinc oxide inside your body at the end of the day. 

I had this formula officially tested for an SPF rating and water resistance a few years ago. This was before I learned that an SPF labelled product can only be sold if it was manufactured in a certified drug manufacturing facility. It's a shame to hold back a great sunscreen so I am making it available without listing the SPF.


mineral based sunscreen | Caroline's Dream



mineral based sunscreen | Caroline's Dream

After rubbing into skin (I left my hand bare)

For my 2 hour or less bike rides, I only apply before I go. For longer rides, I apply before and then reapply a thin layer while I snack at approx 2 hour intervals. As you can see from the photos above, a whitish layer which is the zinc oxide is moisturizing and protecting skin. It does a great job with my tattoo's red ink which is extra sensitive to fading in the sun.

Susan Shashok
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Zero Waste Changes

Zero waste living means aiming to reduce landfill bound trash to the bare minimum. Limiting plastics use because it has a short recycling life compared to glass and metal. 
zero waste
I have been using canvas bags for shopping and buying in bulk or from local farms as much as possible for 22+ years. My family composts food waste and the dried herbs left from infusions. I am careful where I source my ingredients and recycle clean packaging whenever possible. But I recognize that I can do so much more and will be stepping up my Zero Waste choices for Caroline's Dream over the next year.
I will be phasing in metal lids replacing the black plastic lids on the amber glass jars. Metal is sturdier (if you drop the jar, the lids will dent but not break easily like the plastics do) and everyone can reuse or recycle them easily. 
You will notice more zero waste options such as upcoming sunscreen will have a choice for customers of a plastic twist tube or metal tin. 
sunscreen | Caroline;s Dream  Sunscreen | Caroline's Dream
I have replaced the plastic "FRAGILE" stickers with a rubber stamp. Far less plastic in the waste stream and a little fun a the same time (see pic below).
Fragile photo

I already use brown paper packing materials but will be phasing in paper tape to replace the plastic kind.
If you have any ideas or suggestions for more changes, please let me know!
Susan Shashok
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About Sun Sticks

I am a pale person who has used sun care with questionable ingredients. These products irritated my already sensitive skin by leaving sticky residues or stripping it before a burn could even happen. Yeah, I've had a lot of sunburns.  

.Sunburn  photo | Caroline's Dream

A few years ago I carefully formulated a sunscreen with coconut oil, shea butter, essential oils, beeswax and zinc oxide powder. I sent it off to be tested for an official SPF rating/ water resistance and was very pleased with it's performance. Then, I learned that SPF labelled products can only be sold if manufactured in a certified drug manufacturing facility. It was a crushing blow to my plans to make a healthy and effective sunscreen. I shelved the whole project and walked away for a while.

This year I am making and selling it without any SPF rating on the label. You'll find it in my limited edition collection with a functional but basic container and label. This gives me time to decide on the perfect packaging and appropriate label. Feedback from customers will directly shape these choices. You won't find an SPF listed but you can enjoy all the benefits anyway. 

beach photo | Caroline's Dream

Shop Sun Sticks

So let me tell you a bit about my sun sticks and you take it from there. The sun is your friend but cover clothing, a nice hat and reapplying protection throughout the day are wise things to include in any outdoor adventures.

All the ingredients included in my formula have their own natural sun screening properties but it's the non-nano zinc oxide that takes it to the next level. Non-nano means the particles are large enough that they do not penetrate the skin surface. This maximizes the sun blocking factor and you won't have any zinc oxide inside your body at the end of the day. 

Susan bike riding photo | Caroline's Dream

For my 2 hour or less bike rides, I only apply before I go. For longer rides, I apply before and then reapply while I snack at approximately 2 hour intervals. It will add a whitish layer to your skin which doesn't bother me but remember, I am a very pale person! My skin loves all the added moisturizing the stick provides and my tattoo is staying sharp and colorful. 

If you are already burned because of another company's product, you'll want some Super Skin Salve

Please feel free to ask me questions anytime.

Susan Shashok
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Maple Fest 2018 has arrived!

maple syrup photo | Caroline's Dream
Every year I celebrate maple sugaring season here in Vermont by giving customers
15% OFF their orders for one whole week.
mmmm... maple
maple leaf photo | Caroline's Dream
Enter code: MAPLE2018 upon checkout
or click on one of the photos above and the code will load automatically after you shop.
Susan Shashok
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do you really make all the products yourself?

A: Absolutely. Caroline's Dream is a one woman operation. I do all the formulations, production, shipping/delivery & marketing. I have been known to ask friends and family over to help me put on labels during the holidays but otherwise, it's all me. 

The one exception: I don't sew the lip balm pockets, they are designed & made by my sister Mary!

Production photo| Caroline's Dream

Q: What do you mean when you say your products are really concentrated?

A: You can use less of my skincare in comparison to big commercial brands. Only a small amount of my creams are needed to cover a large area of your skin or two swipes of deodorant per armpit... you get the idea. Caroline's Dream products last longer so they are good for your budget and are far more effective.

 Botanical Face Cleanser photo | Caroline's Dream

Q: What is up with the statement on the shipping note cards about shipping creams in cold temperatures?

A: When creams are shipped or stored in sub-zero temperatures, the coconut oil can solidify to form small harmless beads. These are a temperature reaction and will smooth out easily into your skin upon application. Keep in mind, it might not happen but is a possibility if temperatures are below zero for weeks in New England winters.

I hate when anything interferes with the smooth texture of my creams but I am not willing to add artificial emulsifiers that would then be absorbed by your skin to overcome a few weeks of cold weather.

 Product photo | Caroline's Dream

Q: I am not sure which cream to choose for my skin. Should I get a Caroline's Sampler?

A: A Caroline's Sampler has a travel size jar of each of my face & body creams plus a foot cream. It is a great way to discover your favorite cream and the sampler is much less expensive then buying the jars separately. I like to reward the adventurous spirits.

Caroline's Sampler photo

Susan Shashok
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More about Caroline

Customers love that my business is named after my grandmother, Caroline. She is not of myth or legend but a real woman that should never be confused with being ordinary. She was the daughter of two celebrated artists: William known for his magazine cover art and illustrations, an mother Grace for her seed catalog illustrations.



In my eyes, Caroline's talent shone in everyday items such as the quilts and crochet work she made for her family. I have four of her quilts and enough Christmas tree ornaments to decorate several trees at a time! She kept her three children and their respective families well supplied over the years. I remember one summer she crocheted an entire fashion line for Barbie & Ken dolls. I also witnessed her joy in sharing her skills with the people she loved. 


Caroline Nortenheim quilt


Caroline's large garden had a supply of fresh veggies on hand throughout the summer. I remember the abundance of herbs and flowers marked the season in planting, growth and harvest. Her homemade waffles with honey were my favorite whenever we visited. Bread dough was continually rising, baking or being eaten somewhere in her house. She read often from floor to ceiling bookshelves that were absolutely stuffed with books. I will note her passion for soap operas, leather moccasins and wild, Hawaiian print fabrics. She was not one to hide who she was from the world.


Caroline and my Grandfather, Ed were world travelers who enjoyed visiting our national parks. I got to enjoy a few local adventures in their Volkswagon pop up van (pic is a van similar to theirs). They owned a hunting cabin in northwestern PA that had the coldest, most delicious water I have ever tasted and an outhouse that made me cry more than once because of the spiders lurking inside. 

Sadly, Caroline died when I was still a teenager but her work ethic and pride in handcrafting was the inspiration to start my company. She was a strong advocate in learning to value both beauty and function. I wish she could have seen my business in action but I have no doubt she would see shades of herself in the path I have chosen.

Susan Shashok
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