Friday, April 28, 2006

Sunny Day

Oh, it's so beautiful again today! I'm racing through my work this morning, in an effort to head out into the sunshine later and soak it in.

Housekeeping notes: I've added a whole bunch of new shows to the calendar for summer and fall. Things are starting to fall into place. I'll be at Taste of Tacoma's "Art a La Carte" art and craft show in July. I haven't done that one for a few years, but for those folks in the south end, try to catch me here because I will NOT be at Gig Harbor's art show this year. I'm going to return to West Seattle's Junction Fest on that weekend in July instead. Big stuff to look forward to in May -- The Spring Gathering in Rochester, Starving Housewives' Spring Garden show in Maltby, and the U District Street Fair. I'll do a post on those details as they come up.

And the summer newsletter is in the works. I'm just dipping my toes into it -- with the deadline of getting it out just before the Tacoma Farmer's Market opens in mid-May. That is not quite falling into place yet, but it's gaining momentum :)

Can't live without today: Hummus. QFC carries the "Sabra" brand in their kosher section, and it's my absolute favorite. Drizzle of olive oil, a few flakes of greek oregano and a sprinkling of whole chickpeas on top, it's incredibly delish. I could eat a whole container with my finger in no time flat. But baby carrots are lovelier, or tortilla chips.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I was reading an interview with Rosie O'Donnell the other day. In it, she was discussing the fakeness of Hollywood, what she dislikes about the whole fame situation -- a common theme for her since she sort of "retired" from the whole scene.

I had also been contemplating my own little biz at the time . . . something I spend most of my time doing actually.
Little swirls of "how can I make this little endeavor more successful"

Dancing with "how can I connect with my customers better"

Swimming around with "am I being honest and genuine about my products"

oh and lots more stuff in the whole cha, cha, cha line dance - dosey do-ing around in my brain.

For some reason, it has always seemed to me that this little business is not just a fanciful hobby, or just some little scheme to make easy money (ha! easy? No Way!), but that this soap business is more important than that. I'm not quite ready to state that it's my life's mission, or my true calling, or some high-falutin' sharing of my soul. But I keep coming back to the idea that this is meaningful work for me. And the path to so-called success, is for me to really shine within in. Feed it more of my real personality, connect with my customers in an honest way, make it a relationship -- not some faceless service. And rewards will come out of that relationship. Not just money, but satisfaction. Of course, money and profit needs to be there too, since this is my sole source of financial survival. But it seems to be all wrapped up together, and if something in the recipe is missing, the whole cake falls flat.

So, I've been working on shifting perceptions, making little changes, and trying to get into that sort of synergistic flow -- that I think was there at the beginning, and seemed to have drifted away for a while. The energy and excitement of doing what you love to do, and having others love it also. Not just toiling away at tasks to make a buck.

Oh, so back to the Rosie article -- here's her quote which made my eyebrows jump and my skin tingle . . .

"Authenticity is the only thing that people want to buy." -- Rosie O'Donnell

She's a smart cookie, and I believe her. Kind of. I mean, I think that's true in a perfect world. But we're not living in a perfect world. It's full of cheap imports, and Wal-Marts, and tough economic times, and war. People need to make decisions to buy stuff for all kinds of reasons, and desperation and budgets have a role in that. But I do believe that people are drawn to authenticity, and can spot fakes a mile away. They generally don't like to be duped, snowed, manipulated, etc. out of their hard earned cash. And they like to support things that they believe in, buy stuff that makes them feel good for reasons bigger than the instant rush of acquisition.

/end of rainbows and kittens and kumbayah songs . . .

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Agog over blogs

What a pleasant surprise to find the Food section of this morning's paper headlining food blogs. I LOVE food blogs! I've visited every single one mentioned in the article, and have several of them bookmarked that I read regularly. What fun! It's one of my favorite ways to waste a few free moments, in the morning with my first cup of coffee, or at lunch when I've got a couple of extra minutes . . . or late evening when there is nothing on tv and I've got an hour to spare. I don't often actually cook the recipes, I just like to revel in the descriptions, pictures and sometimes get inspired to do new stuff with the ingredients listed. I think I read more food blogs than craft blogs or tech blogs or entertainment blogs . . . or whatever blogs.

Clearly there are blogs galore in this universe. Crickey! Their stats said that there is a new blog created every single second of every single day. And right this minute, there are 36.5 million blogs on the web. Well, probably another thousand just while I'm scribbling this. Nobody can keep up, or even read a fraction of those, even on an occassional basis. I've found myself having to sacrifice reading even my most favorite ones for a week or so, when doing a little hunting around and finding something else to pique my interest. Yesterday I was on a music blog jag.

I'm going to share some of my faves today -- it's kind of a mini-tour of my little travels around the web. I've toyed with the idea of adding huge lists of them to this very page . . . but I'm still turning that around a bit.

Two of the food blogs in this morning's paper (by Seattle writers) I think are swell are Orangette and I Heart Bacon. I also get a kick out of David Lebovitz who was the pastry chef at Chez Panisse with Alice Waters in Berkeley, and is now living and writing from Paris. And another expat in Paris Oswego Tea has lovely photos, stories and great food. The Traveler's Lunchbox also combines travel with food, great stories and really interesting dishes. Delicious Days writes from Munich, and every recipe I've tried from her has been truly delicious. The Scent of Green Bananas writes from Guam, and has gorgeous desserts and a fun style. And finally Accidental Hedonist, the big Kahuna of them all, is also a Seattle woman with an amazing amount of information, links and reference stuff. You can find anything there -- including every single link to the folks mentioned in the article this morning. Naturally, she's already got it all there. She's amazing.

Seattle Bon Vivant also focuses on food, but has lots of great stuff about local restaurants and markets and places to shop, not necessarily recipe testing. Super resource!

Another insatiably curious Seattle gal, who gets huge props for her crafty type blog everywhere, is not martha. Speaking of craft blogs, a couple that I've just recently found, and haven't had enough time to really explore, but keep getting drawn back to -- Pam Garrison, who does mostly paper collage art and Hop skip jump, who makes soft sculpture toys, super cute. Once you start travelling along following the links on any of these pages, you just keep finding more and more along the back roads, until you are miles from home, with no idea what town you've arrived in, and no idea how to get home. That's what it feels like. A Sunday drive with no clear goal, just trying out a new road, winding along, taking turns and curves, happening upon a new town, then another, until it's sunset and you're lost. But supremely happy and a bit giddy from the sheer delight of the adventure.

I've just happened upon a couple of cool music blogs, or audioblogs, where a new song is posted each day for downloading. Honey, where you been so long is pre-war blues, and such a kick in the pants. Old, scratchy, vinyl from the 30's! Unfortunately, I'm having trouble getting the darn songs to play in my ITunes (if anyone knows how to save these mp3's in the new ITunes 6, please, please help me out!). Keep the Coffee Coming does not have downloadable songs, but is charming, mostly geared to folk music, with a new listenable song every day and a little rambling : ) Womenfolk is a great resource for new women artists. And finally, because I'm a huge fan of old school soul music Soul Sides posts tons of fabulous soul songs, that you just can't hear anywhere else.

Satan's Laundromat is a photo blog of New York City, when I just need a little spark of "the city that never sleeps" and A walk through Durham Township, Pennsylvania has simply beautiful photos of tranquil, serene, rural scenery.

Maybe I'll stop here. I skippy hop through a bunch of political blogs, news, techie tips, trashy entertainment . . . but I've got to save something for another day. So I'll stop here for now. If you're reading, hopefully you'll find at least something that strikes your fancy in this list. If nothing else, just the amusement of what this supreme dork does with her free time should give you a chuckle:)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Chugging along

Just a quickie -- I'm still trying to catch up after the show. Yesterday was my so-called "day off". I could take a little time for myself . . . just as soon as I finished unloading the car, unpacking everything, doing inventory, money stuff and processing credit cards slips, laundry, hosing the tent sides, washing the car, grocery shopping, weeding through my pile of mail, email and phone messages, and then just a smidge of gardening too because overnight a jungle has taken over.

Well, as you may guess, I not only didn't get it all done early so I could sit in the glorious sunshine with a book or take a nap. I am still wading through my desk pile this morning. With yet a whole new list of stuff that really, really has to be done today, no excuses. And again, it's another sparkling and glorious morning, and all I really want to do is just sit out there in it, admiring all the new posies, and the fluffy little clouds, -- instead of inside this messy little office, plugging along.

But it was a great weekend over all. And really fun to see a bunch of familiar folks, old customers and friends, watch the parade of kids, dogs, grandmas and ice cream cones go by. We were lucky to have such spectacular weather. And the synchronicity of actually having the tulips in bloom at the same time? That almost never happens. Ok, onward with the grind. Tally ho.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Peanut Gallery

There's no business . . .
Like SHOW business . . .
Like no business I know . . .

If any of you work in retail, this will not be new to you. Or just work with the public in general, in any capacity. Key word: the public. People. Nuts.

Assorted comments heard from said public during the last coupla days (yes, at my booth, where I sell soap):

"What is that? A washcloth? What do you do with that?"

"Are you selling cheese?"

"Is this a spice shop?"

"What are these for? What do you do with these?"

"I'm tired of lavender -- everything is lavender."

"Is that all you have? Lavender?"

"That would make a great drink -- with a shot of tequila."

"Oh My GOD -- that blew my head open, like disinfectant!"

"Do you know where I can find that thing to put hot rollers in? I got one before -- it's teflon."

"Where do you use this 'foot balm'?"

And the ubiquitous -- "Breakfast soap? Does it smell like bacon and eggs?"

There are a million more. Some really sweet and adorable. Many very complimentary. Some just more random. But my feet are swollen stumps. My face is chapped. The slice of bacon and a stale roll I had for dinner is starting to repeat. What? The fridge is SAD, y'all!

I sold out of almost everything today and have so much to do before I leave tomorrow. And right now? I must collapse. Dead. And hope that I can wake up early enough to be productive at the crack of dawn, or before that, while the birds are still dreaming of worms -- or I'll be selling my tablecloths and hot air tomorrow.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Hinkie of Fate

Re: The Tulip Festival street fair.

I got moved due to some CRAZY shenanigans involving a U-Haul truck on Friday morning. I'm just two booths down -- at the very intersection of Myrtle -- still in front of Draft Pic's but right on the corner -- beeeeyoooooteeeefuuuuul spot. So I win and it's all good and the weather is supposed to be postcard perfect. Hope to see some friendly faces there!

Ok, I'm sure the U-Haul truck would be a great story to tell. But it would make the guys who parked that freakin' gigantic rig right on top of two vendor's spots, left it over night, didn't show up the next morning, etc. look kind of dumb. And really, in retrospect, I guess it was just a miscommunication. And the fact that they had to drive over two sidewalks, three curbs, scrape the side of a mini-van, and take out a large number of branches from a small tree -- not to mention the inconvenience of a very panicky group of people who actually belonged to that spot, ran the show, etc. . . . . well, they certainly were very apologetic, if still unclear on the concept. I hope they do well this weekend, wherever they may be :)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tiptoe through the tulips

This weekend is the Mt Vernon Tulip Festival Street Fair. The fields of the Skagit Valley are in full bloom right now -- rows upon rows of fabulous colors, varieties and blooms. If you've never seen it, or haven't seen it in a while, it's a great time to go. The weather is supposed to be spectacular this weekend too -- sunny, warm and perfect for an outing!

The street fair is planted right in the middle of downtown Mt. Vernon. Hundreds of artists will have their tents up for the first time this year with lots of fabulous stuff. The festival is Friday through Sunday (Apr 21-23), 10am-6pm on Fri and Sat, and 10am-5pm on Sunday. We are stretched up and down Main Street, and my booth location is the same one I've had for years now -- right in front of Draft Pics bar near the corner of Myrtle.

Here's the link to the Tulip Festival website for details about all the events happening during this month of the festival, including details about this weekend's street fair.

It's always a little hectic trying to get ready for the first big show . . . did I remember the bungees? the cash box? the shopping bags? So many pieces to pack up. Today is moving the mountain of stuff to the car day. And double checking everything. And getting all the last minute stuff done. Chop chop!

Friday, April 14, 2006

New Life

I love to celebrate holidays, especially if they involve feasting and presents (and chocolate!). So we have a big champagne brunch planned this weekend. I'm stuffing little baskets full of treats for everyone too. And decorating the house with baskets, bowls and nests of eggs -- all kinds of cool eggs, from hand painted wooden ones, to ethereal glass ones, to pretty little wax ones, to real eggshells in gorgeous shades of light blues and greens, and tiny little brown speckled quail eggs too.

While I do not celebrate the Christian part of the holiday, I am very fond of the symbolism of new life and new beginnings, which is both the older and more universal underpinnings for this particular festivity. The return of dazzling sunlight, the return of warm weather, and the returning life of plants, trees and gardens are truly something to celebrate after a long, dreary winter. It's finally happening this week! Funny how it all came together at once -- the daylight savings time, the flowering trees all blooming at once, the temperatures finally hitting 60 degrees. I've gotten outside to dig in the dirt, plop a few posies in my pots, cut the lawn and tidy up my little backyard sanctuary. I find myself staring out the back door at my little square foot of patio every time I walk in the kitchen -- or just stare in wonderment out the front windows at the amazing cherry and apple trees that have exploded like fireworks in gorgeous pink blossoms, little petals gently swirling to the ground like happy snowflakes. I can't get enough of it, feeling restless, distracted, energized, ready for more.

Asparagus, strawberries, baked ham, roasted lamb, carrots, rhubarb, shrimp & grits, artichokes, smoked salmon, a bevy of cakes and desserts, peach bellinis, the whole coffee bar, Mexican hot chocolate, and fresh eggs from backyard chickens -- our little army of friends and family are in for an amazing treat! Gotta get cookin' --

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I'm in complete rebel mode today. I don't want to do anything I have to do. Not work, not chores -- no grocery shopping, no orders, no making soap, no nothing. It's not that I have a terribly busy day planned, but for some reason, none of it sounds appealing. In fact, I'm a little angry and frustrated that I have to do anything at all. Why is that? I don't know.

I have a fairly light week, anyway. And if I was motivated, I could really get ahead on some things, be really productive, or get some long standing projects out of the way. Or I could blow it all off and spend some quality time on fun stuff. And I can't even come up with that might be. I tried shopping the other morning -- spring clothes, Easter stuff, and what not. And after about a half hour in the stores, found it all rather boring and left. Just gave up on the whole thing and drove home.

Maybe it's just an off day. I'll start with something easy and small, and see if that doesn't move me into doing the next little task. If not, I'll just shove myself head first into the biggest and most important thing, with the dangling carrot that if I just get the one big thing done, I can take a few hours off to myself. See how that goes. At least by that point I will have accomplished a couple of priority items on the list and don't have to beat myself up with guilt for the rest of the day. Maybe?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Open your eyes

We are so small we can barely be seen.

How can this great love be inside us?

Look at our eyes.

They are small, but they see wondrous things. -- Rumi

Look upward
where the white gull screams,

What does it see that we do not see?

Is that a star? or the lamp that gleams

On some outward voyaging argosy -

Aha! can it be

We have lived our lives
in a land of dreams

-- Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 10, 2006

No Animal Testing

After last week's little flurry of shows, I've unpacked, taken inventory and am having a morning of re-grouping and taking stock . . . sort of figuring out which of the new scents and new products worked or didn't work. This is a necessary step, and after doing about five shows this year, and having a few months of mail orders to look back on, I can get a pretty good idea which items were flops.

And today it doesn't look that good. The vintage hankie sachets are going nowhere. A couple of the new spring soaps are a bust. The lemon sugar body scrub -- zilcho, and they seem to be breaking up a little bit, separating ingredients now that they have travelled around a bit, and when opened up for customers to smell, are leaking at the top, ruining labels and oozing sticky sugary goo everywhere in the bins. New jars? Re-mix the base? Sale time? It just smells so delish , and it made my skin really soft too. Back to the kitchen on this one.

Now, some of this stuff I test out and some I rush into madly with huge hopes that they will work out. Usually it's just time crunches and deadlines that just don't allow me to make things far enough in advance to test fanatically. And glitches in packaging sometimes don't show up anyway, until they've ventured out for a couple of months to shows (shlepping back and forth to the car, bouncing down the highway, sitting in the warm sun or cold rain) and travelled cross country in a box handled by gorillas.

My absolute favorite soap this time around is the Candied Ginger. I love it to death. Nobody else on earth does, it seems. Which is really dampening my spirits this morning. It's petty, I know. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and though I try to do a big variety so that most people will find something they are attracted to, there will be people who only like one or two, or don't like anything. Some will be huge hits, some just have a little cult following, and sometimes one of my personal faves doesn't become the next big thing. Imagine that. When I test these scents on family and friends, I usually get a gamut of opinions too, and I just have to follow my gut instinct. This morning, I am telling myself that I STILL have to follow my gut instinct, because after all, it's gotten me ten years of fairly successful business, hasn't it? Even if nobody likes the darn ginger soap? Or the hankies aren't as cute as I thought they were? Not everyone is going to have the exact same taste as me. But I'm just hoping I haven't really begun to lose it either. All in all, it was a pretty darn successful week and sales were up, so I'll have to let the pouting go, and get back to work :)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

It's Raining?!?

Dude! Fo' shizzle -- this drizzle is the fizzle. We've had such a bonanza of sunshine all week that I guess I just expected we'd have more of it over the weekend. What a fool believes.

Whilst zipping around to my shows this week, I darted into the plant store and snatched a few plantlings to stuff in my pots -- for the front steps, the back patio and the hanging ones outside the bedroom windows. Just to add a little color to the large expanse of green out there before Easter comes. Because we always have a huge champagne Easter feast at my place, and I want it to resemble a little bit of Spring, instead of the tundra. It's hard to celebrate the return of life without . . . well, life.

So I woke up to rain. A stop in the action while I breakfasted, then more rain while I ran out to restock the Pickering Barn show. My little plantlings are enjoying the water, I guess. But I'm a weenie, and don't relish heading outside in the rain to dig in the dirt. So I will console myself with indoor tasks, poo.

This year, like every other year, I have (extravagantly grandiose) landscape plans for the yard. Oh yeah, pathways, retaining walls, tearing out ratty bushes, installing lovely flowering trees, etc. But on my little scrooge-ie budget, I am resigned to just move a little bit of stuff around, shove in a few annual posies, a tomato plant or two. I'm still scheming grand, tremendous, stupendous things for the outside of my little casa. But first we need at least one darn weekend day with sunshine so I can at least mow the lawn!!!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Spring Cleaning

I've gotten a little stir crazy with all the glorious sunshine the last few days -- and woke up with a mission to Spring Clean my entire office and work area. It's a big project y'all! Pulling out all the boxes of supplies, dusting and vaccuming out all the accumulated little mounds of cat hair, dust bunnies and assorted flotsam. Mopping the stairs and floors, hosing off the floor mats. More vaccuming -- all the little floatie webs in the corners. Actually moving the desk piles, cleaning the printer and computer equipment. It's astounding how fresh and clean it all is. And it's astounding how much extra inventory I've dredged up -- a couple dozen tins, jars, bottles, sacks, boxes etc -- all left over from some kind of seasonal something or other from years past. So I need to come up with some new ideas for all these little items, or figure out how to get them up on Ebay, or just plain toss the stinky bits that are long past their prime. Maybe I'll have a little sale on the web site of extra stuff. Anyway, I'm collecting it all now, making a list, and trying to match things up. So don't be surprised to see some odd new item at a show in the next couple of months -- I'll probably only have a few, and they'll be priced to go, go, GO! Hmm, I'm thinking lavender linen water, heavenly bath salts, little tubes of fragrant tea leaves.

Whee! Today's cleaning is actually fun. And I never thought I'd say that.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More Craft Shows!

Couple more spring craft shows happening this week -- Top Notch in Enumclaw and Pickering Barn in Issaquah. Here are the details, in case you have time to come on over and check it out. You'll be able to find lots of Easter goodies, spring crafts, gourmet foods and just plain cool stuff.

Top Notch Craft Show
VFW Hall
44426 - 244th SE, Enumclaw
Apr 6-8, Thurs - Sat, 10am-7pm

Pickering Barn Craft Show
Pickering Barn, behind Costco at Pickering Place
Apr 6-8, Thurs - Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm

As usual, I've put off truly getting ready til the very last minute. My to-do list for today is ridiculously long -- packaging, labelling, price tagging, making great piles of display items in the dining room, awaiting the morning for shlepping to the car. Oh, and if I can squeeze it in, making another batch of soap too, since I'm perenially behind on that too. And place a couple of supply orders, get that order to the post office, blah, blah, blah. Why am I still sitting here in front of my computer?

Tomorrow is set-up day for both of them, and I'll be racing the highways getting everything in place. I hope the sun pops out a bit. It's been amazing watching my little garden explode this past week. It was just a few daffodils and some little noses peeking out of the ground, and almost overnight there are blooming trees, tall stalks, green stuff and of course a bazillion weeds. I'm still crossing my fingers that the fuschia plant (which had turned in to a rather large bush in the span of a year) will take hold in it's new place. I moved it Sunday to more spacious digs, and it's decided to curl up and droop precariously. I might have killed it. Which would be disappointing, but the prospect of having to shop for new plants is quite nice too. Cheerio -- I'm off to work zealously.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


"Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and spendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur that would never otherwise have occured. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no (human) could have dreamed would come his way." - Goethe