Monday, July 31, 2006

Humming along

This is my new hummingbird feeder, from Andrew. He was my neighbor at the Bellevue fair and a good friend. It might take awhile for the little hummers to find it, but it looks great in the garden anyway. It has a little hole in that top "flower petal" piece which they stick their little beaks in, and they have a 4-inch tongue which sucks up the sugar water. Can't wait to see if they start using it.

Andrew had a record breaking weekend at the Bellevue festival -- best single show of his entire career. That was so fun to watch. He had customers lined up every minute of every day to buy baubles and finials, pond balls and bird feeders. My weekend was pretty great too -- because we had such an outstanding location and the weather was perfect for people to shop. Not too hot, not too sunny, and only a small shower late in the day Sunday. Very pleasant all the way round. Excellent pizza from the California Pizza Kitchen just behind us, comfortable weather, wonderful sales, good people.

On to the week ahead. This coming weekend is the Anacortes Arts Festival. I'll do a post tomorrow with all the details. Today I need to unpack, catch up, get organized and work my tail off trying to make soap and getting a bunch of stuff ready for the next ginormous sale. This two week period is such a huge time crunch. Super long hours, nose to the grindstone. The only thing that makes it bearable is the big chunk of money coming in . . . and the adrenaline.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hot Bath

Life is like a hot bath. It feels good while you're in it, but the longer you stay in, the more wrinkled you get.

-- Robbert Oustin

Wow, what a change in the weather. It's so dark, cloudy and chilly this morning -- only 58 here in Seattle while I'm dashing out the door. It will be really comfortable for people to spend a lot of time shopping over the weekend. So maybe this will be a great thing. I'll need to take my jacket though. My friend Andrew, who does gorgeous glass, is my neighbor. I'm so happy, because we are already planning another trade. We do one every summer -- soap for a glass piece. He's got new hummingbird feeders that I've had my eye on, and he's out of soap. Yay! He's such a great guy too, that wherever he is, the fun and good vibes just overflows.

And I noticed a few other folks I know setting up nearby, during all the chaos and hub bub of setting up last night. All of them really fun, really great energy -- I am really looking forward to chatting and catching up. I heard from Rebecca that a bunch of folks who almost always do the Museum show didn't get in this year, and they are all over at the 6th St show. Which means we'll have some really cool artists to check out. Gotta run.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I realized yesterday that I was almost out of Foot Balm. Heh, I typed "blam" -- I almost always do and it makes me laugh every time. What the?

Anyway, I was quite sure I had a stack of them here ready to go, and suddenly realized that NO! I'm down to my last dozen or so. Trudged out all the stuff, only to find that I was almost out of ingredients too. Just enough to slosh out one small batch which I hope will last me through next weekend, but probably won't. It's been so hugely popular this summer, and I've gotten so many rave reviews about it. And re-orders. Which, at the end of the day, matters the most.

It all came back to me, this exact same thing happened about a month ago. And I actually had to make an emergency run for tins. In that episode, I was short on everything too, and just made enough to last a few weeks, not the great big extravaganza of foot balm inventory that I had wanted to. So now I really need to stock up -- tins, oils, beeswax, the whole nine yards.

One of the things that I've been meaning to get around to is a new beeswax supplier. I've purchased it locally in bulk, raw form mostly. But it's one gigantic hunk of unfiltered stuff, that takes forever to pound up into chunks for weighing and measuring and quick melting. Whenever I've looked around for other stuff, it's always so expensive to ship (pretty heavy stuff). Pellets or beads were the ultimate goal, but I was dead set against the bleached white ones. Beeswax, the pure, raw stuff, has so many lovely qualities, including the gorgeous aroma, that I wanted it as natural as possible. Beeswax has healing, antiseptic, soothing, softening and emollient properties, one of nature's perfect products. But the previous stuff was so natural, I sometimes had bees still stuck in it, and hated to fish the little bodies and antennas out.

I found a new apiary online, who is right here in the Seattle area -- Tahuya River Apiaries has such a beautiful and professional website. The photos of the mountains where the bees roam to collect their pollen caught my eye, but their dedication to using Old World methods, refusing to use modern chemicals and genetic modification sold me. I love knowing exactly who is taking care of the bees, how they are gently handling the wax -- oh, and it comes in one pound bars, already filtered, but retaining all of its natural goodness. And with free shipping -- hoo boy, I'm ordering already. Can't wait to try their raw honey too. Better ingredients just makes better products. I'm thrilled to find them.

P.S. And a special thank you to the charming gal who requested that A Lot of Flowers in Fairhaven special order the Foot Balm for their shop. They are on their way.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lawn Bowling

Lawn bowling. I dunno. YOU come up with a title every day. It's hard.

Yes, I've been messing around with the look of the blog. I got bored. It looked like everybody else's. I was just going to change the header picture, maybe. Or a couple of font colors. And then I got a little caught up. I'm not sure I like what happened, but I wasted so much time that I almost had a panic attack when I finally came out of the stupor and saw the clock. There will be more tweaking as time permits. I'll try not to get too crazy.

I'm also tinkering with the web site. Just adding a few lines of copy here and there, straightening the hem and tucking in the tag that sticks out in back. But the entire thing will be re-vamped when the fall newsletter and products get announced the first week of September. With a groovy new fall look, pictures of leaves and trees -- that sort of thing. I'm trying to get myself motivated to think of fall and winter while we are enduring this heat wave, but to be honest, it's just not coming all that easy. I've still got a few weeks though before the whole thing has to go off to the printer and get stuffed into envelopes. It feels so far away -- how can it possibly be just a month from now!?!

Um, so, yeah. I'm still really, really trying to get ready for Bellevue in a couple of days. Did I mention really? Dude. I think my brain fried over the weekend. Or ADD is catchy. This wandering around in circles trying to remember what I was doing in that room, and why am I carrying around this pot holder and a pair of scissors . . . ugh.

Reminder: I will NOT be in Tacoma tomorrow for the farmer's market -- I'll be off to Bellevue to set up for the weekend.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Belle of the Ball in Bellevue

Lots of little announcements - hang on to your hats.

This coming weekend is the great, big, fabulous festival called the Bellevue Art Festival. It's really three separate shows happening around downtown Bellevue at the same time. There is a fine arts show at the parking garage of Bellevue Square. And there is another art festival (which just looks like more) set up across the street in the Cost Plus parking lot. And over on 6th Street is our show, called the Sixth Street Fair. It's 120 top notch artists, lots of food booths, and great music concerts too. Hours are:

Friday, July 28: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday, July 29: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sunday, July 30: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

I've been making up little "pedicure at home" gift sets to take to the Bellevue show this weekend. A little while back I laid out the whole secret to perfectly pretty peds. Basically it's soaking, pumicing and then super moisturizing. So I've put together the three products you need to pamper your tootsies -- Dead Sea Soaking Salts, the Pumice/Brush Foot Tool, and my Foot Balm. It's all tied up in this sweet little hemp tote bag for a rock bottom price of $15.00. I have about a dozen made up. If you simply must have one, call by Thursday noon and I'll set one aside for you. Otherwise they are with me in the big tent.

The salts are kind of a one-time only thing, I had just a few of these jars left over from some other big idea, the salts too, and they are scented with a very lovely combo of lavender and peppermint. There are enough that I've got about 20 extra jars and will be selling them for $4 each. Again, if you want just the salts but aren't planning on coming out to the show, give me a jingle and I would be happy to mail them. I won't bother putting either of these up on the web site, since there is such a small amount and they will go fast at this show, but if you are a blog reader, here's your special reward -- first dibs.

One other note - I mentioned in that same Pretty Feet post that I had added some wood accessories to the site - namely brushes, a soap dish and a boucle soap sack - which I will have on hand in Bellevue too. Just because. Mostly to see how well they do, and if people seem to like them before I order a bunch more for the site and fall shows. A test drive, so to speak. All of the accessories are here for a look- see.

I also mentioned the other day that I was going to add a 'lavender only' aromatic spray to the current menu. The French Lavender spray has now been added to the web site. And I'll have it with me at all the shows and markets starting this coming weekend in Bellevue. I'll continue to have the Sweet Dreams spray (which is a lavender/chamomile blend) at the shows for a bit. I'll be selling off most of the inventory I have stockpiled around here. And then it will become a "web-site only" product -- meaning that I will no longer have it for sale at shows, but you can still order it online. I would like to eventually phase out this particular scent, but don't want to disappoint folks who can't sleep without it. So we'll see how things turn out as the new spray is added. As long as there are still requests for it, I will have it on the web site, and can continue to custom make them (even one or two) for small orders. So no panic. Just trying to make everyone happy.

Finally, on the theme of lavender in that same post, I mentioned that you could put lavender oil directly on your skin as a first aid treatment for bug bites. Which I've known for a quite a long time, but hadn't really tried. Mostly because I don't really get bothered by bug bites any more. But the last few days with it being so hot, all the windows are open at night (no screens in these old windows) and the buggers have taken to stealth attacks while I am sleeping. I don't often get mosquito bites, but an occassional flea bite on the ankle makes me crazy, for days, itching the top off and making it worse. Yesterday evening before bed, I suddenly got a new flea bite and decided to try the lavender cure since I made such a noise about it. If the new fangled drug store creams didn't work, why not give this a go? And you know what? Instantly stopped itching. Within a minute or two the redness and irritation were gone. Completely gone. I was shocked. And when I woke up this morning, I had a new huge mosquito bite (or spider, but don't want to think about that) on my arm. Again, it was really quite swollen and itching like mad. So I went for that miracle lavender cure and bingo, within seconds it stopped itching and the big, bright red spot was half the size and no more redness. It's unbelievable.

I will make a small disclaimer. All the natural cures and remedies (and even the modern medicines, prescription drugs and whatnot) work a bit differently on each individual. So what works like a charm on one person, may not be that effective on the next one. There hasn't been a large amount of scientific study on the effects of all the essential oils, especially for first aid, so there is no "quantifiable" evidence that they work like clockwork, but centuries of people's own stories can't be that far off the mark. So if you are suffering from something, and haven't had luck with what's currently on the shelf? Why wouldn't you try everything at your disposal to see if it helps? You can buy lavender essential oil at herbal type shops (there's one at Pike Place market and also 15th on Capitol Hill), health food stores like PCC or Whole Foods usually has small vials, Zenith Supplies in the U Dist carries all kinds of supplies and oils. And of course, I have a few (very cheap!) vials of the oil myself in the sale section of the web site that you can still buy while the supply lasts.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Oooh la lah

The history of civilization is the story of man's emancipation from a lot that was harsh, brutish, and short. Every step of that upward climb to a sophisticated way of life has been paralleled by a corresponding advance in the art of perfumery.

Eric Maple, The Magic of Perfume

I've just gotten a load of new books from the library on perfumes -- the art, the science, the history. Just a little something that I'm curious about and want to do some investigation on. Since I've had exactly two hours to even look at my stack, I haven't much to share on the topic, other than it's fascinating and ancient.

Flurry of activity as I get back to work after a weekend off. Orders are going out. Soap is getting whizzed. New stuff on the way. And I'm trying to work around the heat in here. This is really summer! Can I mention how glad I am that I don't live in other more sweltering parts of the country? The lake was so crowded yesterday, with everyone flocking to the beach to picnic, have family cook-outs, bob around on their floaties, build sand castles and forts. Still comfortable enough for everyone to enjoy the warm weather without melting or hiding in dark, air-conditioned rooms.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Three HUGE blossoms last night. It was too dark to take photos of them when they fully opened up. But I was able to get a few pix this morning. They are already wilting and drooping, to hang limply and drop off later today. There is something so special about a plant that only blooms at night, gigantic spectacular flowers that show themselves for just the one night, and dare you to catch them in all their glory.

I counted 15 more blossoms on the way this morning. There were only about 8 a day or so when I looked. It grows unbelievably fast, and for the shortest of seasons. I am so constantly and completely amazed by this plant. I had gotten a little start from a friend years ago. He grew tons of them in his yard and sold the little babies at the farmer's markets. Mom got one too. Mine didn't come back the next year, but hers came back very healthy again and again. A couple of years ago, she gave me one of her babies. And I figured it would poop out again after just one season. But I left a stake in the spot where it disappeared, just in case, so I wouldn't disturb it. This year it popped up all of a sudden, looking like a small weed, and in a spot next to where last year's plant had been -- a good foot from the stake I left to mark it. I had a sneaking suspicion that it was the Moonflower and gave it room, and now it's waist high and growing by leaps and bounds. What a lovely thing.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Busy week. Lots of odds and ends to finish up today. I can't believe it's not a full moon. I swear I slipped through a black hole and it was an alternate universe at the market yesterday. Very weird day. I still don't get it.

This is my first weekend off in a month -- sandwiched between another three huge weekends coming up. I have no idea what to do. I'm waivering between nothing at all and a bunch of fun summer activities. Except it's supposed to be HOT.

So I'll take it easy, go with the flow, try to stay cool, and do anything but think about soap for the next two days.

My gigantic moonflower plant is producing so many flowers this year. A huge, beautiful bloom opened up last night, and in this heat, it will only last until noon today, I guess. But I've got three more ready to open tonight. It's so amazing -- I'll try to post a picture if I can catch it. But I've got plans to sip drinks and watch girls do theatre this evening. Maybe I can catch it early tomorrow morning while there is a little more light.

And by the way, the new fall soaps are really, really good. I've got the Asian Pear next to me as I type and it's so pretty and fresh. The Moroccan Fig is better than ever -- the figgy portion is a slight variation and so ripe and luscious. There's a Gingersnap with a nice earthy bite, and some kind of Pumpkin Something, which is more cinnamon and vanilla than pumpkin at the moment. I'm waiting to see how it develops before hatching up a name. Jack O'Lantern? Pumpkin Moon? Or something altogether different if the pumpkin-y portion doesn't come out. Cinnamon Stick? Anyway, it's too darn hot today to think about crackling fall leaves, and bobbing for apples, witches and goblins and fireplaces.

I've got patio parties, fruity drinks, suntan lotion, and sizzling grills to attend to.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The wheels on the bus . . .

go round and round . . .

I know that everyone has a running commentary of thoughts that go through their head all day, but does anyone else have "conversations?" Not the kind where you supply all the character's parts and talk back and forth, but more like the thoughts play out as if you are explaining something to someone else. Maybe I'm a weirdo, or maybe that's how everyone thinks. I don't know. I've never asked anyone.

All I know is that lately, when I've got a little thinking time while stirring soap or doing mindless tasks, my thoughts have turned into blog entries. Instead of just turning things over or random things flitting by, my brain is forming explanations, stories, paragraphs -- actual blog entries. It's weird. Or maybe just different than before. I remember when I was much younger, like teen years, I was having a thinking phase that was similar to this. Everything I was sorting out in my head seemed to sound like a conversation I was having with someone else. An imagined boyfriend or best pal who wasn't there. At the time it seemed imperative to "practice" my opinions and feelings in my head so that when the time came to articulate my "self," I would be ready.

It doesn't feel like that right now. I'm not practicing anything. I don't even know where the train of thought is coming from or going, but the words and thoughts are flowing through my head in complete phrases and paragraphs that are fully formed as if in blog entry form that must be immediately pounded out on the keyboard for the next posting. Completely random sharing over . . .

What I intended to write about today was reinventing the wheel. It feels a little bit like I'm constantly reinventing the wheel here at my little business. Actually, I haven't reinvented much, or changed much, in a very long time. It's been mostly little tweaking, or shades of the same thing, but basically doing the same thing over and over. Just copying, cutting, pasting, and doing what worked in the past.

And for the last year or so, I've been drawn to actually changing the way I think and do business. The blog has been great for that. Because I can think out loud, and once it's typed out, it kind of sticks. Before, I was just mulling things over and over, back and forth, not making any real headway, just mud-wrestling around in indecision. It feels like there has been a turning point. And the transition is actually happening. I want to re-invent the actual mission statement and premise of what I'm doing. Not turn it upside down, but move forward a chunk and do things slightly differently, and better, and with more forethought, planning and intention -- rather than seat-of-the-pants and last minute because it's deadline and I wasted so much time I actually have to do something this very minute or it won't happen. The latter was my modus operandi all too often. And you know what? You're not always thrilled and satisfied with the outcome when you just wing it, or make do.

Is this going anywhere? It's all so random, eh. Well, suffice to say, I have come to some important conclusions as to where I want to make some changes. To the regular Joe, it may not be that noticeable. But to me, it's monumental. And it's going to take some steps to get there. I can't do it all this week or this month, requiring planning and small action steps, and carefully working out the details before I just announce it in a newsletter, having just made it the day before (er, not that I actually did that, or will admit to it.)

No worries, no major upheavals, just diligently making things better around here, a little at a time, with focus and attention on all the little things.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sloppy Joe

Earlier this year I had been having trouble with some of my soap batches. It seemed that even though I was doing everything exactly the same, using the exact same ingredients, from the same suppliers, etc., the batches were often coming out white and streaky instead of the usual translucent, glistening perfection I was used to. It wasn't bad soap, just ugly. I was actually tearing my hair out and having to work overtime, trying to re-make batches that I thought I wouldn't be able to sell.

I insulated them a little more, which seemed to help. So I kind of chalked it up to a cold kitchen, the planets out of alignment, a bit of bad something or other that would be eventually used up . . . and trudged on. As spring warmed up and turned to summer, the batches seemed to be coming out just fine again. And then I realized that I had been getting a little sloppy with the measuring. I do that in cooking too -- I don't use recipes, and just measure stuff by eye and hand, substitute ingredients if I don't have something on hand, and toss it all together. Soap making was the same. I had a basic recipe that I took a year to work on -- adjusting little by little. I had finally gotten to one where I had removed just a smidgen of the water ingredient, because the bars seemed to get harder and cure more quickly. I still had a portion of oils that didn't saponify, so I was perking along thinking that I had a "super-fatted" bar, the cure time was quick, and life was grand. That was all great for the last eight or more years, until the rough patch this past winter.

I'm not sure in what order, or how it happened, or timing or anything like that . . . but within the last month or so I started upping the water again and getting a little more careful with the lye measuring. The bars were perfection in appearance, the soap was rich and thick and glossy, the colors vivid and translucent for a cold-process soap. I was thrilled. Problem solved.

And then I was discussing soap making techniques with some other soapmakers from New Mexico, and they talked about their "super-fatted" bars. They insisted the term could only be used when adding nutrient oils to the batch at trace, and not just because there was a higher oil content in the recipe. When I got home I looked it up. And we're both right. Super-fatting means a certain portion of oils that are unsaponified in the recipe, leaving a teeny trace bit of oil in the bar that acts as a moisturizer when using the soap. Mine are the actual base oils, and that was by design. Theirs are all kinds of extra oils, like avocado and shea butter. Last night I was reading up on all the nutrient oils and had decided that I need to try a few batches to see what they felt like, and if it was noticeably different, depending on which oil was used. I want to try shea butter, avocado oil and jojoba oil -- each of them being the top of the pops for absorbing into human skin, adding vitamins, and their rich feel.

Of course, I don't have any of those in the house right now. So it entails a supply order (which I don't need to do right now) or a run to Zenith Supplies (which I also don't want to spend the time road-tripping up north to do). So today it's all a good idea, but will have to wait a few days.

Tomorrow is the Tacoma Farmer's Market and it's Kid's Day. All kinds of fun, activities and music performances for the kiddies by Dance Theatre Northwest. Just in case the kids are getting bored of summer right about now and need something new to do.

I will NOT be at the Tacoma Market the following two weeks (7/27 and 8/3) because with both the 3-day Bellevue and Anacortes arts shows on the weekend, it's just not enough time to prepare for what are the biggest shows of summer for me. Plus I've got a birthday in there, and want to at least have a few hours off to eat cake. I'll be at the market for the remaining weeks in August and then I am done. The market officially goes through Sept to mid Oct, but I am off doing the Puyallup Fair in Sept and starting fall craft shows, and can't be in both places. Plus the market shrinks to a skeleton crew as kids go back to school, and it's not profitable enough to warrant the drive down there, for me anyway. I've updated the calendar on the web site, and will always keep that current -- up to the minute. So stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lavender Redux

I almost hesitate to post again about lavender for fear of becoming "that lavender girl." As popular as lavender is, arguably the number one most recognizable scent, plant and fragrance for the whole "smelly" world, there are still a lot of people who are a bit confused by it all.

In doing a little more aromatherapy research yesterday, part of my ongoing project to develop more essential oil blends into my work, I found some interesting things from a scientific standpoint regarding lavender's uses. Psychology Today has two new articles about the scientific studies and results that validate what has been claimed for centuries about this plant. In The Smell of Relief lavender aromatherapy has been proven to not only soothe the senses, but aid in pain management, having sedative effects comparable to drugs like Valium.

And in Soothe Your Senses with Lavender, the physiological effects of soothing, calming, mood altering, and relaxing have found to be exactly what aromatherapists have stated.

Lavender derives its name from "lavare" which means "to wash." The Romans were aware of its antiseptic effects and used it to cleanse wounds, adding it to bath water too. It's been used for centures as a strewing herb, to freshen homes with it's fragrance, to ward off bugs and vermin, and to antiseptically clean. It's been used on people too, for the treatment of skin ailments, bug bits, wounds, and generally freshening up and smelling lovely. Its physical and emotional effects are numerous -- first aid to skincare to stress-related disorders like headaches and insomnia.

My plump, muslin lavender sachet bags are always immensely popular when I am at festivals -- people claiming to smell my booth from a block away (which is sometimes embarrassing). People have been using them as bedside items to help them sleep, tucking into drawers and closets, driving around with them in their cars to mask the funk and pet fumes, and gracing their bathroom counters for a little added charm. In addition, I have the Sweet Dreams aromatic spray, which adds a little Chamomile essential oil to the blend, also known for its calming and sedative effect. Lately, however, I have been requested time and time again to have a plain lavender aromatic spray. And I will do it this week. I need to get some new labels printed, and will have the new lavender spray ready for the Bellevue show next weekend. If that's what the people want, then so be it. I'll announce it here when it's been added to the web site too.

Lavender's many uses and powerful effectiveness has also earned it a starring role in the Healing Salve and Foot Balm too. The French Lavender soap bar? again, one of the crowd favorites. And my Lavender Lemongrass blend, for both soap and spray, always gets top honors too. It's all good.

Earlier this year I made up some small vials of the pure lavender essential oil and had them at a few shows. Frankly it's just one too many things to add to the menu at the moment, so when I got down to just a handful of them, I stopped taking them out for air. They are resting comfortably here in my office, but I am putting them up for sale on the web site at cost practically. You can't buy essential oil for this price anywhere, trust me. Lavender essential oil is steam distilled directly from the plant's flower buds. It is gentle enough to use "neat," meaning it can be placed directly on skin without irritation. Well, unless you already know that you have an allergy to lavender -- there are a few folks that are, but you would already know that because it's so prevalent in things that you couldn't have gone this far in life without already having that be abundantly clear. A drop on your fingertip can be massaged into temples for headaches. A drop can be placed on bug bites for relief. A few drops can be added to bath water, a light bulb, a tissue or hankie. A bit can be added to water in a spray bottle for ironing clothes or spritzing just about anything. It can just be a little sniffy jar for the car, to be opening in crappy traffic. You get the idea.

It's a half-ounce bottle, aromatherapy grade 40/42 pure essential oil, from lavender grown on a gigantic herb farm in Oregon, really high quality stuff, and it's sale priced at $4.00 each.

Okay, enough of the blah, blah, blah -- you can order it HERE. *removes self from lavender soap box and exits quietly*

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ice cream dreams

I feel like I've really been missing all the fun in summer lately. All work and no play for the last few weeks. So my quest this week is to enjoy a little bit of the season before it's over. I still need to spend time getting ready for the next round of shows -- Bellevue, Anacortes and Coupeville, the most intense three weeks and end of summer shebang. I'll start tomorrow.

I'm working on balance this morning. Mixing in a few personal projects with the big clean up after the long weekend. Spending a little more time in my jammies and playing around. It will all get done today. But on my own time. I refuse to look a deadline in the eye today. And there will be ice cream. Lunch in the back garden. And time with my eyes closed and feet up.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Lousy day yesterday, sorry to report. Fridays are always slow business at the West Seattle fest, but yesterday was particularly bad. Partly because of my location, partly because the new organizers were still figuring things out a bit, partly because it was much hotter than forecast and I faced into the sun for a long bit, partly because at this point I am just plain exhausted and was low energy.

I tried to get a good night's sleep and awaken fresh and ready for a brand new day. But the cat who has been so lonely and hungry for days decided that last night was payback time. Prowling the backyard looking for a fight, getting into trouble, needing midnight snacks and then getting sick this morning after her big binge. I'm dragging and feeling a little emotional and edgy, but will head back over there in a bit. Catching up on the Tour de France on tv while I drink an extra cup of coffee. I wish I was nursing a Bastille Day headache instead, and cheering madly from those little campers speckled across the countryside, chateaus and medieval monasteries dotting the landscape. A girl can dream.

West Seattle is a neighborhood fun fest. Music all day. Beer gardens and cocktail tents spilling out from all the restaurants. Kids carnival. All the merchants have opened up their back rooms and have piles of clearance items and sales tables in front of their establishments. The local businesses have little sidewalk tents to sell insurance, bank services, vinyl windows, new gutters, chiropractic offices, political groups, the brown UPS truck, school raffles . . . everything from soup to nuts. And the festival tents down the middle of the street is basically a world bazaar. You will find imported shirts, beads, sarongs, silver jewelry, rugs, bags, flags from every corner of the planet. And a few of us sidewalk artists too. The folks certainly seemed to be having a great time, catching up with neighbors and buying trinkets for the kids.

More coffee. I need more coffee.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Healing Salve Saves the Day

I heard the best testimonial ever on the Healing Salve this past weekend. One of my customers stopped by the tent, and told me that she and her mother had just recently taken a high altitude trek through the mountains of Tibet. Her Mom had tried everything, but her lips grew increasingly drier in that cold, arid environment. It got so bad, they began to crack and bleed, finally developing an infection. Nothing worked and they were all getting worried. At one point, the daughter pulled out her tin of Healing Salve for her hands. Mom saw it, grabbed it, and miffed at her for not telling her that she had the stuff, immediately planted some on her lips. In very short order, the entire condition cleared up. No more infection, no more cracking and the dryness severely diminished -- in just a few days of using it.

Now, I've always sort of daydreamed about my world treks and travels, or fancied that if I was ever chosen for "Survivor" or some such nonsense, that my one staple beauty item would be the Healing Salve. Because it is such an intense moisturizer, and the beeswax is an excellent barrier, reviving skin almost instantly. And because it has such a wide variety of herbs for all conditions -- antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, soothing and fixing almost everything. It heals cuts, scrapes, burns, bug bites, all about six times faster. It's tiny and pocket ready. Won't leak or spill. I would take it to the jungles, the mountains, the desert, the deep forests. But, it usually just goes to the grocery store with me. Or the post office. I use it constantly during shows to pretty up my dry hands and cuticles. But that's about as far as it's gone. Canada.

So this was a fantasy come true. It works! It saved someone's life.

If you're going any place exotic and remote and far, far away this summer, maybe you need to pack a little salve in your pack. You can purchase it here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Going, going, gone

First things first -- I wanted to share the info about where I'll be this weekend, at the West Seattle Summer Fest. The Junction Festival is a free event, hosted by the West Seattle Junction Association, an organization of local merchants, and held in conjunction with the West Seattle Junction Merchants' Sidewalk Sale. The family-oriented festival, now in its 24th year, has regularly attracted more than 30,000 attendees to the three-day weekend event and continues to be one of the most popular street festivals in the region. It is a family-oriented event with community ties that are even stronger than ever. Unique arts & crafts booths, a selection of vendors representing a cross-section of cultures, two stages with on-going live entertainment, and a beer & wine garden make this a really great neighborhood event.

Dates: July 14, 15 and 16
Times: Friday and Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-6pm
Where: The West Seattle Junction on California Ave SW, between SW Edmunds and North of SW Oregon Street to the Post Office; and on Alaska Street, between 42nd Ave SW and 44th Ave SW
My booth location: Booth #50, approximately between Arts West and Poggie, but facing East side of the street.

Link: West Seattle Summer Fest

Secondly, I'm going to bring all the rest of the old aluminum bottled sprays that have been on clearance since I changed the packaging back to blue glass bottles last fall. I have just a small bunch left, and will use the "sidewalk sale" theme to finally sell the last little bit of them. They are off the web site as of Friday. You can still order them until Thursday night, and I will set them aside for you -- special last chance notice to all you blog readers. And anything left over (none, fingers crossed) will go back on the web site next week.

They were regularly priced at $6.00 each, the usual retail price, but are now half off at $3.00. You can order them here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I'm debuting a few new soaps this week -- experimental batches using essential oils, plus a couple of freebie batches just to use up some leftover fragrance oils. I will have them at the market on Thursday, as well as the West Seattle street fair this coming weekend. Just in case anyone is interested.

I'll be trotting them around until they are gone, but they will not be up on the web site. It's just too confusing, and there aren't enough of them to do that. So if you're not planning on seeing me in the next month, just give me a call to order them, or write it in an old brochure/order form you have lying around.

The new fragrances are:

1. Bergamot Rosewood: It's a light cream colored bar, scented primarily with bergamot (the essential oil that makes Earl Gray tea). So it's lightly citrusy, with a bit of rosewood, palmarosa, geranium and patchouli. The rosewood gives it a teensy rose petal floral note, the palmarosa highlights the citrus with a touch of grass, the geranium backs up the rosewood, and the patchouli (just a pinch) just anchors it all together, with a barely there earthy note. It's actually quite a light pretty scent, and all essential oils.

2. Orange Rosemary: Is a little stronger. It's also a cream colored bar, meaning no color added. The orange is nicely fragrant, and it's got a beautiful hint of rosemary herb. Also fairly light, but beautiful, and again, all essential oils.

3. Cottage Garden: Anise, Lemon and Rose are the basis of an old fashioined fragrance called "Old Lace". I'm calling it Cottage Garden because it's a very pretty floral. The rose is soft and mellow, the lemon and anise not quite recognizable as themselves, but giving the fragrance a complexity that makes you keep smelling it over and over, wondering what it actually is. No color, no texture, so it's also an ivory color. The rose portion is fragrance oil, and the others are essential oils.

4. Green Tea: This is a blend of essential and fragrance oils. It's a high-impact green tea scent, meaning it's quite strong and there is no question as to what it is. I've never smelled a green tea scent such a complete match for the real thing. Which is weird because a portion of the scent blend is an actual green tea fragrance oil, which didn't do much for me. But I added essential oils of wintergreen and vetiver, and voila, it's like a just brewed cup of strong green tea. I've added French green clay for color, so it's the same shade as a cup of just made green tea.

5. Papaya Mango: This last one is a pretty coral pink bar, with the addition of Moroccan red clay for color. It's all fragrance oils, a stew of all kinds of little bits and pieces of fruity stuff that I had left over. Mostly a mango guava blend, with grapefruit and ginger notes, coconut and lemongrass hints. But mostly it's just a tropical fruity cocktail and perfect for summer.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Merry go round

These are the cutest flower boxes I've ever seen. Behind the little neighbor building to the Star Store in Langley, someone has hung rows of flower boxes, which have strips of painted wood attached to the fronts, labelled and designed to look like shelves of books. It's the book store, of course.

Lovely weekend all the way round -- weather, setting, people I met for the first time (like Kristy's new baby, Skye) and people I haven't seen for awhile. Got some beautiful beach glass earrings, made from antique auto headlight glass, from fabulous Andie, who traded me for soap. She does beautiful work, and doesn't even bring it to shows to sell it, just makes them for friends. So I'm fortunate to have these.

And now I'm dragging my feet getting started this morning. It's the endless merry go round of unloading the car, unpacking and beginning the re-packing for another long weekend. I've got just the three days, Monday through Wednesday, to package a million bars of soap, make sprays, sachets and lip balms, paperwork, supply ordering, mail orders, phone calls etc, etc before I've got 4 straight days of selling on the street again. Thursday is the Tacoma market and Friday through Sunday is the West Seattle Festival. I guess it's good that it's a little overcast and cool today. I won't be quite so tempted to play hookie and piddle the day away doing frivolous stuff.

As much as I love the Choochokam festival, and I did quite well there this weekend, I'm really worried about the future of that show and the artists who weren't there this time, and the extinction of art shows in general. This one in particular had a really good reputation, and high-end, super creative artists would come from all over to gather in this one spot every July. This year was markedly different from last year, which had been already sliding quite a bit from a few years back. It's been changing drastically, and not for the better. It's imports, of course. Is this the future of all things? Are we doomed to just re-selling cheap imported crafts from Thirld World countries at every show? Are people really not willing to pay a little more for lovingly handcrafted creative work from local artists? Are the organizers and townsfolk more interested in the entertainment of the music, food booths and block party fun, than having an acclaimed art show in their city? Or did it just slide a little bit when nobody was looking and become a downward spiral? Who cares? What was missing was the paintings and prints, a bunch of pottery and glass artists, the folks who did the fabulous wreaths. But there are more t-shirts, sand-filled snakes, bubble wands, hair ties, sarongs and silver from Thailand, Tibetan flags, and more hair clips, plus about a third of the spaces were just plain empty. And the crowds were smaller too. Advertising? Gas prices? Or they gave up coming because the artists gave up too? I don't know any of the answers. But it scares me and was the single biggest topic of conversation.

My new friend Jim, the blacksmith who was next door to me, worries that we don't teach any of these hand crafts in school any more, and the younger generations don't even know what they are, or care. There is no shop class in school like we used to have. Or wood working, or home ec, or art, even music. How can people appreciate the craftsmanship, if they have no exposure to any of it? Maybe we are seen as freaks and losers who can't hold a job, and show up to these little summer festivals like gypsies, much like the carnie operators and balloon sculpting clowns. He laughs about this and likes to play up the image, but it's not really a joke.

There is so much more to say. It touches on every facet of our culture, operates on so many levels. I'm too tired to even take this any further. I just know that we, collectively this weekend, were scared, discouraged, confused, angry . . . and yet still very grateful to have the opportunity to be in that pretty place, doing what we love, and for the most part, ending up with a successful and profitable event. Sigh.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Choochokam rocks

Today could not have been a more perfect day to ferry over to Whidbey Island. The view from my tent is amazing -- I think I have the absolute best spot in the entire show. I'm directly across from the boy and his dog statue that looks out over the water, and watched the kids digging in the tides early that morning, kayaks skim along the shore, and boats amble back and forth all day. The sky was a magnificent blue with not a cloud to be found. The mountains were all crystal clear, their snow peaks standing above the horizon. And the temperature was perfect, with a slight breeze. The kind of summer day you dream about.

Folks from all over were visiting on summer vacation, lazing away the day at their beach houses, and stopping in for a little shopping and shimmying to the all-day bands. And I got to talk to some really cool soapmakers and share tips . . . from right there in Whidbey, to Camano Island folks, to a couple from Las Cruces, New Mexico. Fun to hear what everyone else is doing, and to know that every one of us adamantly hates the onslaught of the dreaded "melt and pour" soap and is devoted to keeping the real stuff, the authentic recipes and the make-it-from-scratch spirit alive.

We're still there all day Sunday -- 10am to 5pm. The ferry lines were a breeze. The mood? Totally and completely mellow. What summer is all about.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Lemon Sugar Scrub Sale

I've just put the rest of the Lemon Sugar Body Scrub in the sale section on the web site. It doesn't do well in the warm weather and hot sun at outdoor shows -- it seems to separate a bit. And when folks open it up to check out the scent, it leaves little trails of goo. Once I get home, it cools down and stiffens again, and has held up just fine. So I've decided to put the last little bunch of them on sale, mail order only.

It's truly great stuff. If you've never used a body scrub before, you're missing some fun in the tub. Usually it's a base of salt or sugar, mixed with oils or a soap base. You take it into the shower (no water) with you, scoop out little globs and massage into your skin, kind of scrubbing in a circular motion. When finished, turn on the water and rinse clean. Your skin will be soft, smooth, totally exfoliated and energized. It polishes and invigorates at the same time. My scrub base is the best of all worlds -- a sugar base, which doesn't sting or irritate like some salt bases can, and a soap base with moisturizers, which won't leave your shower oily or slippery but leaves you soft and hydrated. I can't stand doing the full beauty routine, and then ruining the whole experience by having to clean the bathroom when I'm finished. This beautiful product rinses completely clean, in fact the darn tub looked even cleaner when I was done, like it rinsed off some the scum that was already there. Can you beat that?

And the scent is heavenly, fresh squeezed lemonade, lightly sweetened and citrusy zingy. Lemon is a skin brightener too. It's used in all those high-falutin' potions which "brighten" age spots and skin tone, making you look younger and more radiant. I'm very much in love with lemon oil lately. I've added some to my regular body lotion too -- mostly because I am addicted to the scent, but I'm always looking for ways to turn back the clock.

Originally I added this product as a Spring Seasonal, and the regular price was $6.00. It's on sale now for $4.00 for an 8 oz jar. Great stuff. You can order it here: Special Sale Items. An amazing deal.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The weekend in Langley

Just to get you thinking about your weekend plans . . . howza 'bout a little trip up to Whidbey Island, a stop at the charming town of Langley, and a visit to the popular Choochokam art festival there?

Their blurble: "Choochokam, Langley Festival of the Arts. On Saturday and Sunday, the streets of Langley (Whidbey Island) will be filled with arts, crafts, music, poetry, dance and festivities as Choochokam returns for it's 30th year. Artists, crafts people, sumptuous food and top notch entertainment will please art lovers from around the region." Okay. Sounds hokey. But truly, Langley is a gorgeous little spot, with the sweetest little shops and restaurants, flower boxes overflowing at every step, not to mention the unbelievable views of the Sound. And when some of the finest artists gather to fill the streets, and the toe-tapping bands start playing their music? it's magic. I love this show and can't wait to ferry up there this weekend.

Dates: July 8 & 9, 2006
Times: Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
Soapworks Studio Booth Location: Across from the Star Market, right next to the Village Pizzeria, at the little scenic overlook to the water. Same spot as last year.

Just in case you need a virtual tour -- here is my exact spot! If you move your mouse, it pans around in a circle, showing you the whole downtown street, and the amazing view I see from the back of my tent. Village Pizza is the pink building. And I'll be set up along the red curb space just in front of the pick-up truck in front of that little park space with the statue of the guy and his dog looking out across the water. Best view ever.

Here's the official site: Choochokam (Note: the web site seems to be down yesterday and today, but I know this is the correct link because I just checked it last week to find my booth location and it was functional and up to date. So I'm putting in the link now, and hoping it's back online soon, or try again later.)

And just in case you need to plan ahead, the Washington State Ferry schedule can be found here: Ferry Schedule.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Big Show

We went to the Lake Union fireworks show last night, like we do every year. They are the best, by far. At our favorite spot, pressed up against the railing at the very end of the pier near Chandler's Restaurant, we watch the boats jocky for position as the sun sets behind Queen Anne hill, the pinks and purples in the sky, mirrored in the waves. Glorious evening. A lightening storm in a single brightly lit cloud was flashing and shooting jagged bolts over to the east, it's own fireworks show, and keeping us occupied as we waited.

I'm working on my camera skills still. But decided to try out the "fireworks" option on my camera, just to see what I could get. Obviously, they didn't come out that great. But the special effects are kind of interesting. I suppose if one were truly serious, they would have brought a tripod, or at least set the camera on the railing instead of just holding it in the air while jostling about in a crowd.

So impressive this year. New colors, like peachy oranges, citrusy yellow greens, brilliant turquoise blues. And an unbelievable set of petal pink and lime greens. And new effects -- like the red planets below, some fuzzy dandelion thingies, little purple rockets that shot up and drifted down timelessly for what seemed like minutes, looking exactly purple coneflowers or echinacea blooms that turn into parachutes. Hard to describe. Smiley faces, red hearts, big yellow, blue and green block shapes. I don't know how they keep coming up with these amazing shapes. But it's one of my favorite things in the world -- to watch the sky explode with shapes, color, loud booms, fizzling sparks, dramatic kabooms of light and sound. I don't really need the lousy photos to remember it all, but it's fun to have a few of these silly string shots to remind me of some of my faves.

So onward this week. This coming weekend is Choochokam in Langley, and with the market again tomorrow, it's going to be an intense couple of days making lip balms, packaging soap bars, and getting ready. Off to the races . . .

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Miss Independence

Today I am taking the day off to celebrate my freedoms.

Not really the patriotic type, but I can appreciate the vision of our forefathers, and the huge sacrifices made by so many throughout history to protect our freedom in this country. I often think about what it would be like to have been born in another country, and there are very few places other than here that I would have been able to achieve the lifestyle I currently enjoy, all on my own, as a single woman carving out her own little business and surviving on the profits. So for that, I am deeply grateful.

Monday, July 03, 2006

What's your favorite?

I get asked this question almost every single day that I am out selling the soaps - in reference, of course, to which scent or bar of soap I personally like best. I still haven't come up with a good answer for that one. Even after all this time. Every. single. time. I stammer out a response along the lines of well, I'm using this one right now, but erm that one's good too, and uh this one is really popular . . . um, ahem.

Because it's a toughie. I mean, I can't say, "I like all of them" because it's just too cheesy. And it wouldn't be true anyway. As much as I hate to admit it, there are a few that I don't really care for all that much and have never taken in the shower with me more than once or twice for testing purposes. But I won't say which ones, heh.

Scent is such a personal thing. What one person loves, another hates. And it doesn't say anything about their personality or character - it just is what it is. That's why over time I have made so many different kinds, and not all of them are about me. And it's also why I like to do the seasonals. It's fun for me to try new things, but also to see what kinds of scents are more popular and with whom.

And to be really frank, the ones that I truly have a little crush on (and it changes a lot) are usually the ones that nobody else likes, and when I've said it aloud in the past, the earnest, happy customer picks up that bar with eagerness, and then squinches up their nose, looks uncomfortable and mumbles out a "ah, ok" and it's an awkward moment as they decide if I'm joking them or just plain weird. Then I tried the method of just picking out one of the best sellers of the moment and pretending, but that felt dumb to me too. And again, it's always a crapshoot, whether they will agree with you or not.

I think what folks really want is a good recommendation, not that they really care what I'm sudsing with. So I've been trying to ask what kinds of scents they prefer, or texture . . . and kind of point out a couple that might suit them, without getting into the whole mess about me. I need to work on a better line to use. One that's kind of ambivalent, but doesn't sound like I'm evading the question, and then turns it into something useful for them.

But anyway, if anyone truly cares, I really, really, really like the Candied Ginger. And as per usual, it's clearly not popular with anyone else. And every version I've ever done of the Orange Blossom. Love it. But that one sells quite nicely. I almost always have a bar of Beach House in my shower in the summer. And the whole lot of top 5 selling soaps of all time that are always on the menu? I am just plain tired of after 10 years, so they don't make it into my soap dish any more. But you didn't hear that from me.