Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year!

2008. And so it begins. A clean slate. A fresh, crisp, page of paper in a brand new notebook on the first day of school. So much promise and hope.

I have to admit, 2007 was a difficult year. It felt so out of control most of the time. By the last few weeks, I kind of just let go and gave up, anxious to put it behind me and start over. There was really nothing more I could do, and nothing I could say that made sense. The voice in my head just sounded hysterical and helpless.

I closed up the studio and took a week off. A few days later, it's a little far-fetched to believe that just a little bit of reckless celebrating and everything is different. But it's a new year on the calendar and I'm looking forward, not backward. I got a chance to even spend more than two minutes on my computer and I caught Alicia's post about her Christmas Wish. It describes what I've been feeling so well, and so many other people I've talked with lately are feeling it too. The holidays and rush are over now, so let the silence, peace and balance begin, I say.

January is a month of relative quiet, hibernating and working ahead. I want to make a lot of changes. But I haven't even started yet. Today I'm at the shop and catching up orders that came in all week. Tomorrow begins the clean-up and focused soap-making. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I have almost no soap at all in here. I'll need to work quickly to get back up to speed and have something to actually sell and fill more orders with.

Back to work day. Ugh. And yay, too. I'm reluctant to have to look at the mess here that I just dropped and walked away from, but I'm also a bit excited to put order to the whole unresolved nagging pile, slowly put things right, and take action on my new ideas. A toast to turning the page. Um, sparkly water of course, since we're all probably on diets today too :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas.

And a season of peace and goodwill.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tipsy Tips

I spent the weekend in New York City. Left for just a quick few days to catch the holiday lights, window displays and do a bit of shopping. I was hoping to catch some holiday spirit, and it was really a wonderful getaway.

I want to post pics and say something more about the trip, but I'm tipsy. For weeks, (months) before I left, I'd been getting up by 5am to start work, plug right on through til 9pm or so, and fall into bed and die. Only to do it all over again each day, never quite getting everything done that had to be done right this very minute. So last Friday when I left, I was thinking that it must finally be over, it must surely be winding down. There has to be at least a day or two that I can have to myself to get my own shopping done, my own holiday festivities under way? And if I had stayed here, I would have worked myself right on through and probably be in a straight jacket by now.

So I left. It was good, and the perfect antidote to all this holiday stress. But I came back to another pile of last minute orders, several calls from Bellingham saying that my table at Allied Arts was empty, the Collage shop shelves empty . . . more more more. I spent the night before packaging stuff to send by courier over to the shop, instead of packing my socks. I put a couple big orders on hold til I got back. I came home to an even bigger list of things . . . work shifts the first couple of days, orders from morning until night. I'm worked out. So I got back from Collage and did a few more orders. Then when I got back from UPS and USPS, I tossed back a couple.

It's the only way I can survive this one more evening of frenzied packaging and pricing, to leave before the crack of dawn and drive to Bellingham and restock the show before they open tomorrow. There are 5 more shopping days til Christmas. I'll be up late again. And up earlier again. And rushing again all day.

So listen up all you Bellingham peeps -- here's the tip: if you get to my table tomorrow, there may possibly even be soap and products there. I've got soap bars, lip balms, some salve and stuffs. It will be as loaded as I can get it. But it won't last long. Everything is getting snapped up quickly, and the early worm . . . blah blah.

And if you live somewhere else? the mail order is over. I can't get it to you by Christmas. I tried the UPS thing to the East Coast today and if you want to pay the equivalent of a honey baked ham to ship it, you can have it there by next Thursday. The Post Office is slogged too, and even Priority in Seattle is iffy. I'm willing to do a quickie or two by Friday, but there are no guarantees. I restocked Collage both days I worked this week, Tuesday and Wednesday. I brought over lots and lots. And sold even more, it looked like.

So think about your lists now. Get over there quickly. It's all there is until mid January. I'm not kidding this time. I'm seriously sold out of a big list of items, both holiday and regular. And I'm not making more until January, so there just won't be any for a few weeks. Everything I saved and divvied and spread around is in 2 places -- Bellingham tomorrow morning or Collage. The home studio is dry, empty, barren, nothing. Which includes me. That's my news.

I'm downloading all my super coolio pics of New York shops and lights and cheer. I'll post more later. Back to the hamster wheel for now -

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Baby, it's cold outside

Brrrrrrrr! It's so cold this week.

I really have nothing to report, except that I'm working like a slave and it's not that fun. In the very back of my mind, I'm beginning to think about how to do this all differently next year. Because clearly a lot of things haven't worked out all that well as I got to crunch time. Obviously I need to get a better system in place for the next go-around. It feels a bit disappointing. I haven't gotten past the stress to get to that "excited and challenging" part yet.

The sales, however, are NOT disappointing. That part is wonderful and new. I just got pinched hard when everything began to reach a different level this year.

I'm working at Collage today, and twice next week. And the remainder of the weekend, I'm taking a couple of days to get some holiday spirit. I need a brain vacation so I'm setting the whole thing on a shelf until next week. Hope you all get a little time to play and do fun stuff too during this super busy season. It all goes by so fast. And I was beginning to feel like I would miss the entire thing completely if I didn't stop the train and jump off at the next station, even if it's only a few hours. See you next week!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Quiet Sunday


Oh, blessed, quiet, day of calm.

I think I'm finally downgrading from code red to code orange. The flood was cleaned up and the studio reorganized. Bellingham was restocked. By Thursday I had caught up with all the current mail orders. Friday I worked at Collage and spruced up and restocked them too. I even got a few hours off in the evening to socialize! Do holiday stuff!

And then, wonder of wonders, I took a day off yesterday to decorate the tree, string the outdoor lights and deck the halls with a little holiday spirit. But it was sorta of slow and apathetic, because I'm so darn tired. My sweet kitty, Dora, is having a love affair with the tree - batting off all the lower ornaments, rearranging the light strings, and sleeping under the branches in her little fuzzy blanket. It's adorable, most of the time.

Today is quiet - a day of cleaning, laundry, catching up on extra stuff. I feel like it's the first breath in a long time, like I've been underwater, holding my air til I'm blue, and I've just blasted to the surface. I'm working ahead on getting all the new orders out tomorrow, right on time. It's by choice. I don't really have to work today, but I want to do some shopping and errands tomorrow. That's one of the good things about being self-scheduled. I don't have to fight the crowds on weekends. I can wait until the weekday and head out early to avoid some of the craziness. So today I'm staying home and getting things put to rights and hopefully taking a long nap.

I'm also making more batches of soap almost every day. Just to fill in holes, and get all the flavors back on the list. As of now there are several scents that are sold out again. I had made small batches of all of them - just to get me through that last little hump of shows, but they sold out almost immediately. The next round of little batches will be ready Dec 18th. What's missing is: Cedar Musk, Citrus Basil Scrub, Breakfast, Lavender Pear and Red Currant. They WILL be back in stock. I am working on it as fast as I can. Everything else is good and ready for last minute Chrismas shopping.

When I finally get a bigger chunk of quiet time to catch up on paperwork and bookkeeping, I'm expecting that the mail order and web site have finally outgrown the show money. I hope so. That was the goal. Or at least get closer. I want to make changes next year - yes, like make a ton more soap earlier so this running out thing doesn't happen again. But also change up the show schedule, maybe do fewer little ones anyway. Concentrate on the internet sales more because it's a much more effective use of my time. Can it be? Is it already time for resolutions and new year planning?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Flood

Yep, it was bad. Woke up to a flooded basement (you too?!) - the furnace and the water heater washed out, a couple of racks of soap floating. Not what I needed. What I needed was a day off, to sleep in and relax. What I got was panic, bailing water with buckets and complete chaos. It took all day to get pumped out, rearranged, appliances back in working order. I've never seen so much water everywhere. Relentless. That's the word my neighbor used. And he's right, it just never seems to stop.

I was able to make a stab at the piles of mail orders, and shipped off about half of them. My re-stocking trip to Bellingham is moved to tomorrow. Soap of the Month club packages are a day behind too, but heading out. If I start to think about everything on my list I just flip out - so I've made priorities, and just take it one at a time. There's never enough time in this month, I think.

Even though it feels completely out of control, I'm pretending it's all going to turn out fine anyway. One step at a time. Baby steps.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It SNOWED!

Oh my GOSH! It snowed yesterday!!

Great big snowflakes, all afternoon. I never expected we would get that much, and it actually stuck. At least for the afternoon and evening. The kids were sledding and throwing snowballs, the cats were hopping around in it, when they finally braved it out from under the bushes. Or so my sister said. I was at the Phinney Ridge show all day, watching out the window and wondering how bad it really was. Because I needed to zip over to Bellevue as soon as we were done and break down the Hilltop show.

Turns out, it was starting to get slushy by then, and the roads were just wet, not icy. And the shows went very well. Almost too well.

There seems to be a shift in the universe lately. Suddenly there is so much more demand for the soap bars than I could ever have imagined. And I can't keep up with it. The mail order is so much bigger this year. The orders are larger than I've ever dreamed of. The shows are selling so many bars, bars, bars. It's not the same for all the other stuff, although that part is ok. But the bars of soap are flying out faster than I can make them.

For example, most years I'm doing another couple of shows this weekend in addition to Phinney. And I can only swing enough bars for the first day at that show, hoping that whatever I pick up from breaking down the other two shows on Saturday night will carry me through Sunday. Well this year I was only doing one, and it was the smaller one. So being all smarty pants, I had enough time and soap to bring the whole load yesterday - as much soap as I sold for the entire show last year.

However, by late in the afternoon, I was almost sold out. And what was left at Hilltop - almost nothing. And what I have here on the shelves - less than nothing it looks like. I've got orders all set aside that need to be shipping this week. And I've got just a handful of bars I was saving to restock Bellingham - far less than I would have wanted. And after that? Maybe 4 of this, 6 of that. The other batches curing need at least a week or two before they can go out - they are still squishy. So no way can I sneak those over.

I'm going to have empty bins. I'm going to have to be creative. And the shoppers today will have to come early or settle for other things -- like lip balm, bath salts, the fizzies. Plenty of those. But it's hard to sell little gift sets of soap mitts, washcloths, soap dishes and . . . . . . . no soap. I'm disappointed that I missed the mark, but who expected it?

So now, I do the best that I can, and crank up my plans for next year. If I get started early enough, and work hard enough, maybe. Just maybe. Pfffffffft. And then next year it will be the year of something else. Nah. I think the message is: it's the soap, baby. Just the soap.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hazard

Do you know how hard it is to wash your hair with one hand? And I've got a stupid gyno appt this morning, so of course I need to shave my legs. I've never done it with just my left hand. Not a good look. Or brush my teeth with only my left hand either, trying not to get the bandage wet. I'm a dork. And still flipping mad at myself for being so dumb.

That's all. I'm working with a smaller bandaid this morning. And the typing is a little better, but still a challenge. I'm going to lose the whole fingernail at some point. But at least it's not still gushing blood any more. Progress.

This is the weirdest week - I'm still not quite past the Thanksgiving thing, and totally not feeling the Christmas thing yet, but I'm already working on Spring. No holiday decorations, no shopping, no gifts, no fa la la yet. Haven't even thought about it much and it will pass me by before you know it. There's only a few short weeks left and I need to squeeze in some festive festivities and schmaltz up the place with tinsel.

Spring, Valentine's Day . . . all that needs to be ready to go as soon New Year's is over. So soaps need to be made, ideas drummed up and packaging supplies on order. I can barely keep up with holiday mail orders and I'm thinking roses and chocolates, birds and bunnies. I'm also working out plans to teach a soap-making class at Molbak's at the beginning of February. I'll keep you posted when we get that finalized. It won't be big, but it's kind of an exciting new thing to look forward to. I haven't taught classes in years and years, but the process hasn't changed :)

Ah, and show applications. A whole pile of them on the desk for the year ahead, and they want it now. Photos, fees, contracts. Gosh, a gal can hardly enjoy the moment it's over because it's already begun again. The wheels keep on turning, turning, turning. The road never ends.

Monday, November 26, 2007

This Week's Shows

Hey - this is the last week I'm going to have to say this for the whole year! I've got two shows this week, and that does it for me until 2008. Of course there is still mail order, there is always mail order, and plenty of time to ship before Christmas.

Hilltop Holiday Craft Show
Northwest Arts Center
9825 NE 24th St.
Bellevue, WA (Clyde Hill)

Dates: November 28, 29 and 30, Dec 1
Times: Wed-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-5pm

This is a boutique style show with a central cashier, and lots of fun holiday gifts.
Link: Hilltop Holiday

Winter Festival and Crafts Fair
Phinney Ridge Community Center
6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle

Dates: Saturday and Sunday, Dec 1 and 2
Hours: 10am-5pm both days

There is a small admission fee ($4) which supports the Phinney Ridge
Community Center and its programs. Artists (115 booths) are present at their booths, and this is truly one of the highest quality shows with lots of holiday gift items. Donations for local food banks are requested here. Food and entertainment is available throughout the show too.

Location: Red/Preschool Room in the lower level of the Main Building.
Link: Phinney Winter Festival

And of course I'll be at Allied Arts in Bellingham all week too, in fact that show continues until Dec 24th. So make your lists and head over, maybe a few times.


I'm so relieved to be in the final stretch of shows. And it's a good thing too - I cut my finger badly this evening and can't type worth a nockel, um, or nickel. It's back to 2 fingers and a huge bandaid in the way. So my happy week of tying little ribbons on soap bars is looking dreary. Maybe when the throbbing dies down, it will be better. Anyway, I'm spitting mad at myself and how stupid this is right now. But accidents are never convenient, are they?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of my favorite feasts!

Ohmygosh, I absolutely LOVE spending the day in the kitchen cooking up stuff. It's happening at Mom's this year, which is a big relief for me, because even though I love to cook, this time around I wouldn't have had the time to clean the house and get ready for a huge group over here.

As it is, I get the best part: lounging about in the flannel pajamas with coffee cake in front of the parades on tv, and then cooking to my heart's content for a few hours, nipping and sipping, and off to stuff myself silly at somebody elses' pretty house. No clean up! All the fun!

I'm doing some sides - a salad with carmelized pears, 5-spiced candied walnuts, gorgonzola and maple vinaigrette, the sweet potatoes (vanilla maple), cornbread sausage stuffing, and cream braised brussels sprouts - just simmering now, and a recipe I've wanted to try forever.

We've brined the turkey again this year because it was so darn good that way. The standard stuffing, green bean casserole, roasted beets, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a bevvy of desserts: rum pecan pie, sweet potatoe pie, sour cream apple pie and Paula Deen's amazing Gooey Butter Pumpkin Cake. All with spiked whip cream of course. Oops, butternut squash apple soup too, and the softest little butterflake rolls ever. Yikes, I'm hungry.

Hope you're all having a fabulous holiday with family and friends. Don't give in to the commercial lure of shopping at midnight at some insane mall with live music and coffee. No need to wake up 5 hours before the crack of dawn to save a few bucks on the mucho hyped "made in China" hot item for the season. Just enjoy the time with the folks you love, sleep in and have leftover stuffing for breakfast. I'm planning on savoring the peace and quiet for just a bit. A toast to gratitude and joy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Talkin' Turkey

I'm pretty sure that I was standing in that long line when they were handing out brains. But I must have stuffed them in the purse and lost them down at the bottom with the breath mint wrappers and loose change. Because seriously, what idiot posts about how they can't keep their s*** together on their business blog? Doh.

I only thought about all that later, after it was already up. And as I've said before, this here is where I keep it real, no sugar coating. So it's been a little ragged lately, but not for lack of effort.

But to follow that up -- please don't be afraid of ordering!!! I would hate to have somebody check out the site, thinking about their Christmas list, then pop over to the blog and decided "holy cow, she's got nothing left. I'll just do something else then."

Because I DO, DO, DO have soap here. And the mail orders have first priority over everything else. It's already paid for by the time it reaches me. The folks have already made the decision to purchase and are expecting it to arrive in their mailboxes. So anything going to any show is secondary. If it's just going to sit on some table, waiting for somebody to see it and possibly take it home, obviously that's less important.

Hmm, am I sticking my foot in again? I mean, yes, it's important to have a nice display at each show. If I only bring the quirky and leftover stuff, the show will be a bomb. It's got to have a mix of all the best stuff too. So it's a little juggling act, and that's what's making me nervous. I'm saving the bars for orders as they come in, I'm madly making more of everything, and I'm trying to divvy up whatever I've got to do a nice little showing of everything in every place.

I don't know if I've cleared up anything at all, or only made more of a mess, with all this 'splainin'. I'm sending out the last couple of orders today and will be all caught up. Collage is full and lovely - I was there stuffing all the little shelves yesterday. And I'm back up to Bellingham after the holiday, probably Saturday morning, with another load of happy soaps and lip balms, so it's ready for another week of shopping.

Everything is sorting itself out and moving forward. Not sweating the small stuff. And tomorrow is a day off with a feast, yay!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blind-sided

I sorta thought the trouble was coming, but was keeping fingers crossed that it might be avoided. Nope. Trouble has arrived.

I guess you've noticed that the blog has taken a back seat to all the behind the scenes (and front of the house) action lately. The racing, the panic, the orders, the shows. It's all going so fast. And I've finally hit the point where I can't keep up. I sort of fell behind in August with the huge shows. Then I tried so hard to catch up in September for the fall, and Puyallup was way bigger than I expected, or was ready for. So I was even further behind. And now there's no way to reach the finish line in one piece.

Since soap needs curing time, and it's all going out faster than I can make it, I ran out of stuff this weekend at the huge Best of the Northwest show - which was a great thing for me, sort of. Today I'm so bleary I can barely count the 4 of this and 2 of that which came home with me. And there is a pile of orders that came in over the last few days and many of those soaps are just not available. I have a few batches curing now, but I fear it's not enough. Not enough for the orders, the shop, the next two shows and the all-month-long show in Bellingham. Fidgeting, scheming, re-counting. Some of it will be ok, and I'm still figuring the rest out.

The soap sacks sold out, and the supplier actually sold out too - no more even being manufactured and shipped until January. Wah! What to do about that this morning. Much hand wringing, since I've made it such a big piece of my gift sets for the season. I've only 2 bottles of French Lavender spray left. Ran off to the bottle folks and they have a new manufacturer too - different product, different cases, and I'm worried about the sprayers leaking like they did before when the bottles changed, all to save a few pennies on costs, sigh. Ducked in to get my fresh goat milk to make more of the goat milk soap I've been out of, and the farmer injured himself and had to shut down the dairy until next April or so. I feel so badly for him, but now I'm back to solving another puzzle piece that I never expected. Not enough this, not enough that, not enough time to get the other stuff shipped here. This whole week will be panic (with a quick break for turkey) trying to make more salts, more lip balm, more foot balm, more sprays, and a million batches of soap, if I can swing it.

But I'm TIRED! I haven't had a day off in forever. My skin is breaking out in weird red spots. I need meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Where are those elves?!? I need elves, dammit!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This Week's Shows

So little time to chat this week, what with all the hubbub of the "busy season." I still want to post this week's show info though, in case anyone wants to stop by. The first one is tonight - a little one evening only event, so I'm just finishing up getting that packed up and out the door . . .

Nordstrom Guild

The Lloyd W. Nordstrom Guild has a one-night holiday show to raise funds for Children's Hospital uncompensated care. Last year they were able to donate $10,000. The is a required donation of $10 (pre-paid) or $15 (at the door). Complimentary appetizers, beverages and dessert are served, and it's a fun evening of holiday shopping too. Everyone is welcome to attend, no invitation needed.

Location: Our Lady of Fatima Social Center, 3218 West Barrett in Magnolia area of Seattle
Hours: 5-9pm, Tuesday, November 13

Allied Arts Holiday Festival

Allied Arts of Whatcom County features its 28th annual "Holiday Festival of the Arts." Featuring a wonderful selection of local artists and their work, it's the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind, handcrafted gifts for the holidays. We have the same location as last year -- the Whatcom Center (the old JC Penney building) at 1310 Cornwall Ave, just a block away from Allied Arts' offices and gallery shop, in the heart of downtown Bellingham. With such a large space available, we're hoping to have more artists and bigger displays than ever before, and will showcase an Artists in Action area as well. This is a must-see show, and with shop-like hours through most of November and December.

Dates: Nov 16 through Dec 24, 2007
Regular Hours: 10am-7pm, 6 days a week, closed Mondays
Location: Whatcom Center (the old JC Penney building), 1310 Cornwall Ave, downtown Bellingham

Opening night party - meet the artists! November 16, 7-10pm, entertainment, food, door prizes
We close at 3pm on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec 24
Link: Allied Arts

Best of the Northwest

Celebrating their 19th year, this fall show is the biggest one of their entire schedule, featuring tons of the highest quality artists from the entire region. Find some unique, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, or special pieces to decorate your home for the season.

Dates: November 16, 17 & 18
Hours: 10am - 6pm, all days
Location: Hangar 27, Magnuson Park, Sand Point
Free parking !
Link: Best of the Northwest

What's making me insane this week: the end of the "do not call list." The minute the legislation ended, the telemarketers came out in full force and I get interupted all day long with stupid nonsense. What's making me happy this week: peppermint ice cream, sunshine streaming in the kitchen window, and the knowledge that I'm past the halfway point on my show schedule.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Campfire Stew

When I was little, I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout. One of the things I remember about our little "camping" trips, was the Campfire Stew - sometimes good, sometimes not. Each of us were required to bring a can of soup or vegetables along, and when it was time for dinner, they browned a bunch of hamburger, and then tossed in everybody's cans - sort of a huge pot of soupy, sloppy veggie and burger stew. I don't remember them requiring that they were a specific flavor or anything, but I guess we figured out pretty early that it wasn't cute to bring clams or something gross, because they would make us eat it anyway.

I've got a big pot of campfire stew going on over here, metaphorically speaking anyway. A little bit of this and that, all thrown together and bubbling away. Orders are perking along, shows are non-stop, Collage has it's little wine and treats event tonight. Trying to keep it all up is a little bit of a challenge, but it's going well. It feels a tad bit less stressful this year, and maybe that's because there wasn't the Vasa Park and Lord Hill shows to add to the mix, which I'll miss dearly when the numbers are all tallied later.

It's been 17 years since I moved to Seattle. Yes, that seems like forever to me too. But I have to say that I've never had a nicer, more pretty autumn than we've had this year. Many years we are suffering storm after storm, flooding, and days of soggy messiness. But it's been a dry October and November. Somehow, the way the change of temperature and weather played out, we've gotten full colors for weeks now. So many times it's just been boom! dead overnight and the following week is an endless wind and rain storm, resulting in no color at all, no leaves on the trees, no nothing except the soggy mess to rake up. As I make my way around town with shows, restocking, errands, etc, I can't help but stare at all the incredibly rich reds, yellows, oranges in all the trees. And it's just continued to develop and get better each week. I love the fall season anyway, but this has been a reat treat this year. I didn't even know we could get this close to a New England type season, but we have.

What I don't like about it all is the total lack of daylight. Now that daylight savings is over, it gets dark by mid-afternoon, and it feels like bedtime right about the time you finish dinner.

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.

Monday, November 05, 2007

This Week's Shows


Two new shows this week. The first one starts today (evening preview) and goes through tomorrow. And the other one goes all week long - starts tomorrow morning and ends Saturday evening. So I'm off and running to set up shows all day. It's a whirlwind of in and out. Can't start on orders until tomorrow, so everything that came in over the weekend will be shipped out tomorrow and Wednesday. Whooooooosh.

Meridian Valley Artisan's Festival to benefit Children's Hospital
Meridian Valley Country Club
24830 SE 248th St
Kent, WA

Dates: Nov 5 and 6, 2006
Times: Mon 4pm-9pm, Tues 9am-8pm

This is a boutique style show with a central cashier, with artist's commissions being donated to support the Kent Chapter of Children's Hospital.

.....................................

Starving Housewives at
Echo Falls Country Club
20414 - 121st Ave SE
Snohomish, WA (Maltby)

Dates: Tuesday through Saturday, November 6 - 10
Times: Tues-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-3pm

This is a boutique style show with a central cashier. Wonderful handcrafts and charming antiques. Look for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts!

Link: Starving Housewives

Friday, November 02, 2007

Winter Holiday Newsletter

Winter Holiday News

A fresh blanket of snow, the quiet hush of a silent forest, and the drip drip plop of icicles melting from rooftops – winter is full of sensory delights. I’m looking forward to the upcoming holiday season with the anticipation of less hurry and scurry, and more simple pleasures. Cozy little dinners by the fire, afternoons of tea and books, long walks in the crisp air, baked goods wafting from the oven on a dark day – winter can be a time of gentleness and peace, quiet moments stolen from all the holiday hoop-de-doo which roars past us in a month-long race to the finish line. With that in mind, I’ve created a few new holiday treasures from my favorite things.

The holidays are just around the corner, and with all the extra activity in your schedule, simplify your life by having Soapworks Studio help with the gift giving. This year make it easy on yourself and shop from home, lounging in your jammies, we’re just a click away. We can ship the order to you, or directly to your family and friends with an enclosed holiday card, saving you time, money and hassle. We have a Santa’s Sack full of great ideas for special presents, stocking stuffers, teacher and co-worker gifts, or a special treat for a party hostess.

Holiday Seasonal Soaps

The upcoming holidays have sparked a bunch of new wintry wonderful soap scents for a little fun in the shower, or a special gift for someone (or everyone) on your list.

Flannel Jammies – The scent of clean, fresh, cotton, warm from the dryer, and one of my favorite comforts of winter – snuggling up in a pair of cozy pajamas. This soap is ivory white and silky smooth.

Wintergreen – Similar to peppermint or spearmint, only infinitely better. As kids we always fought over the Wintergreen Lifesavers candies, and secretly hoarded them. Sweet, minty, fresh and delicious - an ice white, smooth textured bar.

Juniper Forest – A blanket of snow , evergreen branches of juniper, cedar and fir, and a sprinkling of yuletide cheer (cinnamon spice). The combination is magical and wonderfully bewitching, in a teal blue color with dark green ribbon.

Bay Rum – A classic, traditional men’s fragrance, Bay Rum is the spicy notes of Bay Leaf, clove and a splash of orange. Leafy green and captivating, it’s uniquely lovely for both men and women – so pretty in an olive green hue.

Are any of those fabulous Autumn Seasonal soaps left you ask? Why, yes! Lavender Pear, and Red Currant & Tangerine are still available.

Winter Holiday Home Fragrance Sprays

Add a little festive spirit to your home with one of our winter holiday home fragrance sprays. Mist your house and holiday decorations just before guests arrive, or spritz your gift boxes, cards and stockings -- your family and friends will receive a whoosh of holiday scent when they open their presents!

Holiday Spice - this is our most requested seasonal spray, every year since the very beginning --oranges, cranberries, spices and greens all blended together for the perfect scent of magic and delight.

Jack Frost - A sparkling new blend of icy peppermint, with lush forest and woods, plus a hint of gingerbread spice. Reminiscent of sleigh rides and fairy tales, it’s crisp, green, minty fresh and delightful.

Holiday Bath Salts

Adorable little ink tin cans with screw tops, charming collage style vintage labels, and fun new holiday scents. These rustic, chunky salts come directly from the Dead Sea. Pure salts with a mineral content that is much greater than other types of sea salts, they work wonders on purifying and detoxifying, improving circulation and moisturizing skin, soaking away stress, and relaxing muscles, aches and pains. These bath salts dissolve in water almost instantly, with a lush, silky feel – no gritty bottoms, and safe for jetted and Jacuzzi tubs. What we know for sure is that when you finally drag yourself out of these glorious bath waters, you are left with unbelievably soft, silky smooth skin that seems brand new. For little foot baths or long evening soaks, these are the best bath salts I’ve ever tried.

Cool Yule – The crispness of freshly fallen snow, the silent hush of a forest, and the rum-tum-tum of a dram of spiced rum. Cool and clean, with just a drizzle of warm honey to take the chill off.

Santa Baby – A glass of cold milk , a plate of vanilla cookies, spiced oranges for stockings, and a little whoosh of fresh night air, still clinging to his suit. This fragrance combines primarily vanilla, orange, and spices, with just a dash of pine, mint and woodsmoke to add a whisper of Rudolph’s big ride.

Snowball Fizzing Bath Bombs

These large sized bath bombs are actually split into two different halves and can be used separately for two baths or together for one, large, luxurious bath. A bit of moisturizing shea oil and heavenly scents make these a luscious treat for bath time.

Available in 5 different holiday flavors: Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla Bean, Lavender, Orange Citrus, and Snowflake

Festive Lip Balm

Brand spankin’ new screw top tins, just for this holiday season, with twice the lip balm and all the holiday flavor! I’ve created three lip balm flavors for stocking stuffers, little package adornments, or tiny presents – Eggnog, Candy Cane, and Hot Cocoa. Packaged in teeny cello bags with vintage holiday postcard tags, and a bit of French bakery twine tied at the top, these are absolutely adorable. (1/2 oz tin - $3.00 each)

Gifts Galore

Attention Holiday Shoppers! It’s the gift-giving season, and fun bath stuff is the perfect gift for everyone on your list. I’ve got an elfin mountain of new gift sets and packaging ideas:

-- Soap bar plus soap dish ($7.00)
-- Soap bar plus soap dish - and a cotton soap sack ($10.00)
-- Gift box with ribbon for 1 or 2 bars of soap, so it’s already wrapped to give ($1.50)
-- The Terrific Tootsies foot pampering set, in a sweet little raffia tote bag, contains a charming little footie-shaped moisturizing bath fizzy, a tin of foot balm, and the fabulous foot brush/pumice tool ($15.00).
-- The Holiday Hoopla gift set is a little wooden bucket chock full of holiday favorites: 1 bar each of the Juniper Forest and Flannel Jammies soap, 1 bottle of Holiday Spice spray, 1 tin of Santa Baby bath salts, and 1 Hot Cocoa lip balm – the perfect little bit of everything for someone special ($25.00).

Internet & Mail Ordering

Holiday shopping online or by mail saves you time, expense, and the headache of traffic jams and crowded malls. We usually ship within two business days, and can send your items directly to family and friends with gift enclosure cards too. Spend more time celebrating and less time fretting. Let SOAPWORKS STUDIO be your answer for holiday gifts! One final note, my office will be closed from Saturday, December 22 until the last holiday party is over on Wednesday, January 2.

Wishing you a season of peace and a new year of hope,

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo!



All around the house is the jet black night,
It stares through the window-pane,
It creeps in the corners hiding from the light
And it moves with the moving flame.
Now my little heart goes a-beating like a drum,
With the breath of the bogie in my hair,
While all around the candle the crooked shadows come
And go marching along up the stair.

- Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child's Garden of Verses, Book 1



Happy Halloween! For the first time ever there is no trick-or-treat candy in the house - I won't be around this evening. That doesn't usually stop me, and I end up eating bags and bags of sugar all month long, just because it's cheap and it's there. So this is big.

The Red Ribbons & Reindeer show opens today. It's usually a preview night on Wednesday, but since it's Halloween, we are open noon to 6pm. And I'm headed over today to set up the Pickering Barn show which will open tomorrow morning bright and early at 10am. This show will have more of the fall products, if you were looking for those, but still have the new winter soaps and a few other new things too - more of a variety. Tomorrow there are more work shifts. And Eastlake is Saturday, where I'll be working my own booth.

Watch out for those bogie men in the shadows -

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A quiet moment



The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

-- W.B. Yeats




It's early. It's dark. But there's an eggnog latte. Yesterday was quite productive, but I've got just a few more things to finish up this morning before I rush off to set up the Red Ribbons show today. By the way, all the shows will have holiday stuff at them this week, with a bit of the fall flavors too, mingled in.

I'll also get some of the holiday products over to Collage this week too, whenever I can squeeze in a trip over, and it may not be until Sunday. Janice is going to transform the shop into a winter wonderland after closing on Halloween, with trees and lights and Christmas cheer. So we'll be completely set for holiday shopping until the end of the year. There is also a little open house evening scheduled for the evening of Friday, November 16, from 7 to 9:30 pm, with wine and discounts on everything in the store, if you're inclined to head over and check out all the new goodies. I'll do a reminder post about that in a couple of weeks, but just in case you wanted to plan ahead.

Today I promise not to eat junky crap, because it's not good for me. I'm trying to give up stress too - it's just little craft shows for pete's sake. Balance. Harmony. Oh, and I'm looking into cloning. Because if there were two of me, then one could be packing orders while the other me was making soap. Ok, no, that would be bad. It's just a few weeks of the year, and if I planned better, most of this could be avoided. So the world doesn't need yet another procrastinator that doesn't learn from her mistakes. Sucking it up, moving forward now. But there's still the dishes and laundry, the mammogram that needs to be scheduled, the oil change for the car . . .

Monday, October 29, 2007

This Week's Shows

Here's the schoooooop on what's happening this week. The first two shows are boutique style, with a central cashier. And I'll personally be at my own display all day Saturday at Eastlake. The fall newsletter and announcement of the new holiday products is also going out this week, looks like Thursday, plus the website totally updated, and I'm working on all of it at once. Lots of buzzing around here, and mild doses of panic too.

Red Ribbons & Reindeer at
The Hollywood Schoolhouse
14810 NE 145th St
Woodinville, WA

Dates: Wednesday through Saturday, October 31 - Nov 3, 2007
Times: Wed 12pm - 6pm, Thur-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-6pm

Note new hours for opening day, since it falls on Halloween. This is the 20th anniversary of this show! It's a must-do for many holiday shoppers in the area.

*******

Pickering Barn (at Pickering Place, behind Costco)
Issaquah

Dates: Thursday through Saturday, November 1-3
Hours: Thurs-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm

All kinds of great gift and decorating items for the holidays, in the big red barn that usually holds the Farmer's Market in Issaquah.


*******

Eastlake High School PTSA Holiday Bazaar

Eastlake High School, cafeteria
400 - 228th Ave NE
Sammamish, WA

Date: Saturday, Nov 3, 2006
Time: 9am-4:00pm

This is a one-day show, and proceeds go to scholarships for the kids. There are hourly raffle give-aways (and they're good!), a bake sale, and lots of great artists with cool stuff too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Factory

The soap factory is buzzing over here and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I know. I know! It's not even Halloween yet. But this racetrack called "retail" won't slow down.

I'm one of those people who doesn't shop for Christmas until the last week or so. But to be honest, I don't really buy much. I pretty much craft and do handmade stuff for the holidays. But even if I was a shopper, I'm last minute. The stores, however, have to catch the early worms. I know there are folks who do all their holiday shopping in August and are long done. That's just crazy (tho' impressive). Everyone else falls in between and if they see something cool, they buy. So the shelves have to be filled with gizmos and doo dads, hoopla and fal-de-ral, trying to entice whatever sales they can muster. You know the saying, "gotta make hay while the sun shines." Holiday sales are make or break a business.

Around here the piles are taller than me of boxes and bins. Mostly pieces of things to still be put together or packaged up somehow. But a small and growing pile or two of finished things for shows next week. We're getting close to the next big round of holiday craft sales.

Next week: Red Ribbons and Reindeer at the Hollywood Schoolhouse, Pickering Barn, and Eastlake High School on Saturday only. Plus, at some point next week the mailing will go out. I'm just putting finishing touches on it, and it will head over to the printer by the weekend. So timing depends a little on how fast they can finish my job and we can stuff it into envelopes. I'm expecting it mid-week. And need to squeeze in time to update the website with the loads of new items too.

Gifts galore. Start making your lists. Yipes, I'm spinning just thinking about how much still needs to be done and how few days there are in a week. The heart-palpitating crunch time is starting right now, and as always it's nightmarish yet exciting, dreaded and anticipated in equal measure. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just file

A day of sunshine and the world is all shiny and happy again!

I've got a song stuck in my head this morning . . . Smile - you know the one?

Smile tho' your heart is aching,
Smile even tho' it's breaking,
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by,

If you smile
thro' your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow,
You'll see the sun come shin-ing thro' for you


I'm working on 3rd quarter business taxes this morning, and this darn song popped into my head, except it was "File" instead of "Smile." Dang if I know where it came from or why, but I almost laughed out loud when I realized what was going on.

P.S. Just a quick follow up to my big discussion about antibacterial everything the other day, this Newsweek article explains in more detail why killing germs may be hazardous to your health.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sniff Sniff Mmmmm Ahhh


The house REEKS of Christmas smells right now and it's making me crazy happy. I finished up with the Jack Frost spray this afternoon and it's delish, a combination of spruce and fir needle, peppermint, and cinnamon cookies.

I have been feeling so guilty all day about my lousy little post this morning with no entertainment value whatsoever, that I decided to make it up to you all by posting a little more about the spray making process.

Firstly, the way I come up with new scents - it's not actually something I can explain very well. For me it's like cooking. I never ever use a recipe and I just make up new flavors or spices or sauces out of the blue. Mostly it's just internalized stuff from somewhere else. Like I've smelled (or tasted) something somewhere else and decided to do my own little riff on it. I read the ingredient list or description and begin to copy it, but using elements I like better or tried before and thought worked well. Sometimes I just throw a bunch of random stuff together, piece by piece to see if they play well together. Sometimes it goes too far and heads over the edge. But I've learned something and take notes (sometimes) and can try it a little differently next time.

I usually start by just holding a few open bottles of fragance under my nose. Add another one, take something away, etc. If it gets really yummy and I'm not sure sometimes I'll drop a few drops of each (counting them out for proportion) on a cotton ball, stick it in a zippie to marinate a few minutes and then sniff the whole bag later. Or I just do a little sample spray to spritz around the house, testing it on random passersby. Sooo, that's the whole secret. No marketing research or development team. Mostly imagination, riffs from things I've smelled before somewhere, either candles, bath preparations, side dishes at restaurants, a place I've visited that smelled really good, like the forest in the middle of a snowstorm.

And then it's spray making day. Here's how it goes. I bring up all the blue bottles, atomizer sprayers, towels, dropperettes, fragrances, etc. and set up the kitchen. The bottles get all lined up in rows. I measure out the fragrance or essential oils in each one as I move up and down the rows. Then I dig the cat out of the sprayer box. Then the bottles get filled with water. It's not an exact science there, it's an eyeball thing, just to the top. At this point the sprayers are screwed on tight to each top. I collect loose sprayers from around the kitchen floor where they are being tossed, batted and chased around the kitchen floor by both cats. Finally the bottles are dunked and washed in a sudsy rinse to remove all dirt, fragrance oil spills and miscellaneous dust and or cat hairs. They are get a chance to dry, stacked in trays, for a few days before the labels are affixed. That's it. It's not rocket science. But it takes time and it's a lot of stink while it's happening and a fair amount of clean up. Geez, I hope I'm not scaring people with cat allergies from buying my products. Its usually not that bad. But today, it's windy and raining and they are bored silly.

Oh, that reminds me. Sometimes people have asked me about sprayers on their bottles they've previously purchased that just don't work any more. It happens once in a while. They plastic parts get gunked up, or there's an occasional lemon in the bunch. Please, please, please let me know if you need a new one. I guarantee the spritzer 100% and am happy to replace just the plastic thingamabob if that's what you need. I know I had one too recently - instead of that nice fine mist it once had, it start sputtering like a tobacco chewing cowboy in a windstorm - that is to say, it mostly just spit in my eye. If this is your story too - toot me and I'll send you off a new one, no problem. The company gives me extras just for this purpose.



The cats hiding out from the rain. In their little front porch chair. The blankie cave. Wish I could squeeze in there too.

Stoooopid

Sometimes it's almost painful to try to think up something fun and interesting to say about my boring, stupid life.

Yesterday's wind storm made the power flicker just long enough to fry my computer. Just MY computer. Not the other one in the house. Just my mainline to all things. I had to brave the elements last night to run it over to the fix-it-up shop, which they did, miraculously. It was touchy and they weren't sure, but it worked out and I'm fine. I swear to GOD this must be the 9th life of my little machine. But I'm not running out to get a new one just yet. I'm in debt up to my eyeballs with supplies for the next couple of months. So it has to hold out until the end of the year when money comes back in. In the meantime, I'll be backing up everything studiously. (Or so I say, although I haven't even done it since I got back from there.)

This morning is just more tediousness. Email not working. Wasted time trouble-shooting and re-setting all the settings to get back online. Weather that is totally freakish - totally black sky that dumps rain so hard you can't see across the street, to blinding sun 10 minutes later. It's about every 10 to 15 minutes that it switches back. Lights on, lights off. Furnace on, furnace off. Windows open, racing around to close everything up. Blowing winds, and then peace. The cats are confused. I'm just running circles trying to keep it together and begin a new project. The morning is half over and I'm nowhere on it.

Today is spray making day. I'm doing a new one, called Jack Frost, that I'm testing this morning. I was playing around with elements the other day and I came up with this -- it smelled so good on the little swab tester. But I need to get it in water and spritz around. And all the other usual suspects are getting made up in huge quantities to last the month. If I can just stand in one place for more than a minute or two.

Oh, and my Ad bag arrived yesterday. It's super cool, but I didn't like the color. Then I noticed the tag said it was made by Alchemy Goods in Seattle. So I looked them up online and they are so darn close to me. Plus they have a huge list of retailers locally that carry their products (and they've got other bags and stuff too - check them out, it's cool). Doh. I paid shipping to have it sent across the country and I could have shopped right here and picked the one I liked.

I emailed them, and they are going to let me swing by and exchange it for the red/maroon color, which wasn't even offered on the Reusable Bags site. They've got lots more options. Seemed like super nice folks, and are holding a bag for me. Visitor hours are next week, can't wait to see their digs and the new bag, whee!

So the rest of the random suds is all dull, dull, dull. Work, work, work. Chores and menial labor. Holed up in my tiny little universe of boringness. Some people can make the everyday sound fun and charming and witty. I, however, can only stare into space glumly and wish I was somewhere else right now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stormy Weather

No more lectures for awhile, I promise. This last week has been a lot of harping, eh?

It's Thursday and the week is quickly coming to an end. We've got forecasts for major storms and winds today, the rain is already pounding us. So I'm going to hide indoors and try to make some serious progress on my winter holiday products. I've got one week before I need to have it all in place. Back around Monday, the two weeks seemed so luxuriously long and far away. And now it's getting a little anxious. So much to do.

This is the part of the business I like best. Working on my own schedule in my little studio. Nothing on my calendar that demands I be somewhere else, no place I must be. Focused on just making new things and working out pretty little packaging. I can turn the phone off for an hour or two if I need solitary time. Or ignore my computer until after lunch if I'm in the middle of something. Just quiet time and puttering about with my ideas.

Cooking today: crock-pot pork roast and pumpkin pie. Obsessing about today: Thane's new H2O mop (and just about everything else they infomercial). Wearing today: leopard print fuzzy slippers. Regretting today: that I missed that darn "Pushing Daisies" show last night. I saw the first one, fell deeply in love with it, and then missed the next two because I just can't differentiate Wednesday night from Thursday night apparently. Dang. Is it online somewhere? Gotta go check it out . . . stay safe out there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bar soap

Little lumps of soap. Beautiful, rustic, chunky, happy little bars of soap.

I've been asked a number of times recently if I have ever considered, or was planning on adding, or thought about, or tried making, liquid soap. The answer is no.

I don't want to sound snobbish about this, but I'm a bar soap gal all the way. And from my vantage point, there are really two camps: the pump soap folks, and the bar soap folks. It's pretty much one or the other, and they aren't that close on the dial.

The liquid soap folks are generally (little bit of stereotyping here, scusi please) the peeps that are wired into the antibacterial products and big on sterilization and super cleanliness. The bar soap folks are more skin oriented, less germ oriented, and a little more focused on natural products. I know there are organic and holistic liquid soap preparations in the world, but the vast majority of them are not. They are more like the commercial soap products - more detergent than soap, infinitely more harsh on skin in general, very drying to more sensitive skin, and the antibacterial claims are a crock.

Ok, maybe not a crock, but certainly misleading, to the point of being dangerous. If you use any kind of hard soap and suds well, rinse well, you will eliminate 99% of germs. The antibacterial type stuff can do no better than that. This has been proven in scientific studies a million times over, so the takeway here is that all those overly marketed germ killing products are not doing a better job than the granny bars we've always used. The difference is this: the glut of antibacterial products out there has actually caused some serious side effects.

Germs and bacteria have a way of mutating to survive. They are pretty smart. So all the over-use of antibacterial products has now produced mutated and more dangerous germs, bacteria and diseases, that we no longer have way of fighting with our tried and true arsenal of antibiotics and whatnot. They don't care. They sneer at our attempts to kill them off and dig deeper. Our immune systems, with less exposure to the usual suspects is weaker in it's war against the general world of germs too. So it's a double whammy. Hence the super bugs.

It was all over the news today. There is a more potent strain of staph infection out there that has just been announced kills more people in the US annually than AIDS. And the scary part is we have no new drugs to stop them. Our pricy little pump handsoaps by Lysol or Clorox or blah-de-blah are useless. And the more we use them, the more pansy we become to the next incarnation of these bugs.

Seriously. I'm not being over dramatic. Look this stuff up. Google the science. I'm not saying "use bar soap and save the world" here. I'm just saying - use common sense. Be smart about what you put on your skin. Listen to the doctors and the science and do what's best for you, your family, the environment. Don't let big corporate advertising and marketing schemes make a fool out of you. Look beyond the "buy this or die" messages and take an active role in determining your own health.

Hmm. That sounded dire and scary. I didn't mean it to be that bad. But I generally hate liquid soap because most of it is manufactured crap. True - there are some organic and lovely ones out there that are produced in careful and healthy ways. If you like that type of soap as a lifestyle choice, look for them.

But for my own business and marketing orientation, I tend to think the people who like one or the other are, if not opposite ends of the spectrum, at least pretty far apart. And to try and cover all the bases and please every possible niche, is just not possible in my own little home studio. For necessity sake, I need to choose my own little niche, do what I do best, make what I love and just focus my energies to that little corner of the universe. So bar soap it is.

Rejoice in the loveliness of a little lump of sudsy goodness. It makes your skin feel good, not dry or itchy. It kills all the germs too. It's got a millenia of history. It's simple as can be, and that's a very, very good thing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trees




Hello. These are the photos of the beautiful fall leaves that I took this past weekend. I've had nothing but trouble with Blogger all evening and today. So this is a really big deal that I could finally post a photo. This place is sooooo not Mac compatible. Bleh.

I've wasted so much brain space trying to get this to work, that I have nothing new to crow about, and I need to get back to a couple of big orders this afternoon.

Save the trees!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Green Day

It's Blog Action Day today. Which is a cool idea -- "What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day? One issue. One day. Thousands of voices."

There are at least 15 million registered blogs posting messages about the environment in one form or another today, hoping to reach over 12 million blog readers, and its probably gone much higher than that. Me, for instance. I just saw it this morning, didn't register, and am late to the game today. It's a truly interesting idea, and I'm hoping to get a little time this evening to cruise around and see what came out of it, after a too-busy day weighted down by minutia.

I did a little cheerleading for green on Friday, but I just want to say out loud that I have been so in lurve with the weather here the last few days. They've been those perfect fall days that start out with sunrises like these - dark purples, a million shades of gold and orange and pink, the black shadows of the trees and mountains framing it all so perfectly in the quiet and solitude of early morning. Or foggy mornings that give way to crystal clear blue skies which offset the jaw-dropping reds, burgundies, golds and oranges of the leaves, which are in full color here right now. I have a couple more photos from the weekend, which won't load right now (blogger problems) but I'll add in as soon as I can.

It's heartbreaking to hear about all the crazy October heat in Chicago, or the doom of drought in the Southeast, the never-ending record breaking somethings that haven't happened for a bazillion years almost every day in the morning weather report. I think it's imperative that we do everthing and anything in our power to be responsible for the consequences we have created out of our collective actions and lifestyle choices. To say that having a blingier car, a greener lawn, a bigger yacht, is more important than the future of the planet is impossible to imagine. Or that someone else should do it because I'm too busy over here working all my electronics, driving my Hummer, leaving on every light in my McMansion so I don't get lost from room to room. It's pretty easy to just cut back, make a few obvious choices and just generally get on board.

I still have dreams of retiring on the beach somewhere. I just don't want it to be in Montana, or Kansas.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The pledge and a bag

I'm so pleased that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize today. So maybe it's a good day to do a little "green" business.

My sister just returned from traveling in London and Paris, and she reports that the Europeans are so much more focused on actions they can take to save the planet. There is not a single plastic bag in either city. If you go shopping for anything, you better bring your own bags, or you'll have to buy a reusable bag from the store to carry your things home. Cath Kidston charges a couple of pounds for hers - a reusable fabric carryall bag that can be used over and over, being economical, readily available, and with her name splashed all over it, good advertising too. Pretty smart.

The hotels no longer do little, tiny, travel-sized lotions and shampoos. Each bathroom has one large pump bottle of the item attached to the wall, which gets refilled regularly (so no pilfering stuff from the carts in the halls). In the drugstores here, the mounds of trial-sized and travel-sized bottles have proliferated exponentially. With the airline regulations for liquids, we've decided to go gangbusters on making more little plastic thingies to use up, toss, and buy more of. And it's still so hard to find good quality re-fillable travel bottles to take your own stuff in. What gives?

I just ordered the grooviest new tote bag ever, it's the Ad Bag on Reusablebags.com. They are made from recycled advertising banners that were used on the sides of buildings, so they are water and weather-proof, super durable and colorful. Recycled seat belt strap handles go over the shoulder and feature a rubber grip made from recycled bike inner tubes that make it more comfy to carry. It's machine washable too, and they say it lasts a lifetime. Can't wait until it arrives to see what my own one-of-a-kind design looks like!

In honor of Al Gore today, I headed over to the Alliance for Climate Protection website, which is where he's donating all his proceeds, to take the pledge. Number 1 of the 7 point pledge is this: To demand that my country join an international treaty within the next 2 years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth. Can we do it?

And I'm thinking again about packaging. In the blitz of trying to create cute and appealing stuff for holiday shopping, I don't think I was ever really thinking about how ecologically smart any of it was. So I'm going to re-think it today, and decide what I can do. Must. think. reusable. We are so not programmed that way, and we need to be. I was tinkering with cello sacks for some sets, but maybe just a little ribbon will do instead. So simple, really.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Yep, just like I planned it

Oh for crying out loud - I ordered the wrong size!

Sheeez, I'm stupid. I had ordered a few samples of little screw top tin cans to do bath salts in for the holidays. I played around with them, decided on exactly the one I wanted, put together an order and wouldn't you know it . . . when I clicked on the dang item, I chose the wrong size. They arrived today and are half the size I was going to do - little mini tins instead of nice little chubby ones.

And it's 500 of them too! I'm not paying the shipping to send them all back. And there probably isn't time to do it anymore anyway, because that huge week of shows, the beginning of the holiday shopping is only two weeks away. I need to spend next week making these all up.

So I figure out a new label now. Figure out a new price. Change up the whole idea. Fix the letter. Gah. I'm so stupid. Bleah. I hate when that happens. Well, it's done. Moving on. It's a stocking stuffer now. But I'm going to be grumpy all day anyway. Ugh, ugh, ugh. (never mind me, just banging my head against the wall over here . . . . blam, blam, blam)

Non-blog readers will never know, right? When the letter goes out, it will all sound hunky dory, just like I planned it that way.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Starving Housewives

Well poo. It's not morning anymore and I promised to post the details for this week's show first thing. The day turned out a little differently than expected. But here's the deal anyway, at last.

The Starving Housewives: Harvest Holiday Craft Show

Location: Bothell Union Hall 302, 18701 - 120th Ave NE, Bothell
Dates: Tuesday through Saturday, October 9 - 13
Hours: Tuesday - Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 10am-6pm
Link: Starving Housewives

It's a boutique style craft show, meaning that we have our individual displays set up all over the place, but there is one central check-out cashier. As participants, we work a shift during the week, but we are not manning our booths the entire time, well except for folks demo-ing things or doing tasting of their jams and jellies. That sort of thingie. Dana is there personalizing her ornaments. What I saw just in the middle of set-up yesterday was very cool wood birdhouses, a whole corner of spooky Halloween stuff, little piles of antiques, dips and jams and nuts, soft sculpture, pet items, lots of scented hoopla (besides me) like potpourri, lotions, and candles, plus a couple of handmade cards and paper goodies. There's lots more I can't even remember, like kids hats, floral decorations, oh and a whole table of fresh-baked pies. That woman is genius with pies, and they're cheap too.

Ok, that's the rundown. It's a non-descript little building in one of those office park type complexes out by the Seattle Times plant in Bothell. But there's bunches of signs and a big scarecrow pumpkin type display right on the corner where you turn to get into the parking lot.

ETA: what, no picture today? hokay, sorry for the double post, but needed to add the pretty.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ups and Downs

See-saw.

The weekend was great and it was also a miserable mess. We got lucky with the weather on Saturday, and although it was overcast, it rained only lightly early in the morning while we were setting up. The turnout was phenomenal, the crowds huge, the sales going gangbusters, and I was starting to get a little worried about how my stock would hold out for the second day, because I came durn near selling out of a bunch of stuff.

So I scurried around that evening, woke up extra early in the morning and worked feverishly to get a bunch more stuff ready to sell on Sunday. The morning was dry and it looked like maybe the weathermen would be wrong about all that scary storm stuff. And I figured that if it turned for the worse, at least I'd be ahead a little for the show I was setting up today. Yeah, I set up another little craft show this afternoon, and yes, I am totally insanse.

The crowds started a little slower, as Sunday always is, but began to buzz quite nicely around noon, and again, I began selling my little wares at a rapid pace. Then it started to gust wind, and rain lightly. But it didn't seem to dampen anyone's spirits just yet. Until the rains turned into downpours, and we got a little worried. The hearty Northwest souls still were zipping up and munching elephant ears, even in the steady, solid wet and drippy skies. But then the wicked Mother Nature decided to tease us by easing up and almost quitting, enticing us all out of our little dry corners, and then bopping us over the heads as soon as we poked out with the most torrential buckets of water ever. It was awful. In the space of a few short minutes, the gutters clogged up so deep we were up over our shoes in the middle of the tents. The tablecloths were soaked halfway up, the poor little tarps and tent tops finally gave up the ghost, saturated beyond capacity and droozling all over everything underneath.

I had to pack it in. I was nearly sold out of many of my flavors anyway at that point, and with my gusty corner booth, had already had to move a lot of things out of the way. So it looked sad and pathetic, but was now entering serious damage territory. And as I said, I had to set up another show today, so I packed up what I could salvage, tucked everything away that could be used again, and hiked off to sit in the dry car for a small bit before we could bring our cars in to pack up.

So sales were great, rain was miserable, crowds were fabulous, my living room a mess from all the overnight drying out and re-packing. But it worked out in the end. I have a little display all set up out there at the Starving Housewives show in Bothell, and I'm ready to go. Exhausted, I need to clean the house tonight for houseguests arriving this evening. What is this hamster wheel and why is it moving so darn fast?

I'll post all the details about this week's craft show tomorrow morning when I get more than two minutes to sit in front of the computer. It starts tomorrow at 10am, and if you just can't wait, check the website calendar for the scoop. It looked really good this time - cool birdhouses, charming antiques, lots of pumpkiny crafts and gifts. I already started to shop, and then had to slap myself before I went a little crazy, walking out the door with the biggest hotel birdhouse in the place. (But if it's still there in a day or so, I won't be able to help myself, so someone please go out there and buy them so I won't go broke.)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mistletoe and Wonderland

My head is spinning with ideas this morning. I spent a few hours yesterday trying to mock up all the new things I want to offer for the holidays this year, and it got to be a longer and longer list. So many ideas, so little time, and I have a tendency to get in over my head a little bit.

For each new thingie I need to list not only the item, but plan out the list of ingredients, packaging pieces I need, supplies, etc., so that I order absolutely everything I need in advance and don't get caught at the list minute trying to put it all in production with something missing. I started going round and round with it. This bag? No, that bag? Ribbon on that, or just a label? Sets with dishes or with washcloths or with soap sacks or with towels? Stick with this scent, or all new scents? I've got to spend a lot of moolah this month - tins for this and that, bits and pieces, scents and fragrances. It's all under wraps right now, big secrets. But you all will know soon enough. November is just around the corner, ooh scary.

So I have a desk full of notes, scribbles of prices and designs. I decided to walk away from it yesterday, sleep on it, and come back this morning with a clear head to make some real decisions. But I'm no closer at the moment. I took one look at it and fell right back into the same hole. I don't want to overdo it - partly because it's just unreasonable to be able to do that many different things, but mostly because at most of my shows I have very little space to display it all. And I want sort of a cohesive look and not be spread too thin, or a random jumbled mess. So I need to narrow it down to just a few things that all go together a little bit.

I think I need to step away again for the moment, and package soap, get back into a mindless rhythm and let it work itself out. It's probably best to place all my orders Monday anyway, after I've collected a little money to spend.

Snowflakes and simmering spices, sleigh rides and winter berries, candy canes and Christmas forests, all swirling in my brain . . . so looking forward to the holidays, I can almost taste it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Spawn. Just Spawn.



That's the "ohfishal" tagline for this year's Salmon Days Festival, where I'll be this weekend. The forecast is kinda crappy - to really crappy, but it never seems to affect the crowds of folks who come out to celebrate the Northwest. Salmon and rain go together like birds of a feather, so it seems fitting to slush through puddles on the way to the hatchery to watch the salmon jumpin'. It's a good time no matter what, but I'd rather have last year's warm sunny weekend, to the previous year's thunder, lightening and hail (just like yesterday's storm, oh my GOSH!).

Advertising blurble ahead:

The Issaquah Salmon Days Festival, presented by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, is the annual celebration of the returning salmon to our lakes, streams and downtown hatchery. This two day event held annually the first full weekend in October draws crowds of more than 150,000 people. Salmon Days features a weekend full of salmon and free fun, including more than 300 artists, the Foods of the World, a Grande Parade, 5k and 10k runs, four stages of live entertainment, the Field of Fun for kids, tours of Issaquah's hatchery and much more.

Dates: Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7, 2007
Times: 10am - 6pm both days
Booth Location: Same spot as last few years! Booth #318, located on W. Sunset Way, at the corner of the driveway entrance to the hatchery.

Link: Salmon Days

I say don't miss the Kiwanis Salmon Barbeque - yum.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The necessity of rest

Just a few quotes about rest today. They have been shamelessy "borrowed" from a recent Oprah magazine. At the time, I guess I thought they had some kind of meaningful purpose or whatever, so I clipped it out and added it to the large pile of stuff to look through later when I had more time.

Well, I never have more time. So this morning, in between tasks that are heating or cooling or waiting for next steps, I decided to tackle that one last pile on the floor of my office. I'm ruthlessly tossing stuff that I will never do, things that don't matter, pages ripped from somewhere that I don't even remember why, and little handwritten notes that I can't even read now and have no idea what I was thinking.

But these little quote-lets sort of go with my theme as of late, so I decided to toss them gently at the wall of my blog and see if they stick.

"The mind that comes to rest is tended
in ways that it cannot intend:
is borne, preserved, and comprehended . . . "

Wendell Berry
_____________

"What is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare?"

W.H. Davies
_____________

"This wasted time I have found by constant
experience to be as indispensable as sleep."

John Adams
_____________

"It is in his pleasure that a man really lives;
it is from his leisure that he constructs the
true fabric of self."

Agnes Repplier

Monday, October 01, 2007

Underground

At first I thought I my blogamabobber was broken. During the last few days I would come to my little blogger page, hit new post, and then stare blankly at the screen. I couldn't think of a single thing to say. I would twirl my hair, squirm in my seat. Start, stop, erase, start again. Nothing. And then there would be some sort of distraction, and gratefully, I would close the page and forget about it for awhile.

But I was thinking about it yesterday, a whole day of doing nothing but entertaining a couple of crazed cats who were so bored to have to stay inside for a whole day due to cold pouring rain, and I decided that it's just the natural flow of things. I think it's been a week of semi-hibernation. After all the hectic busy-ness of most of September, on the heels of a rather busy summer, suddenly the weather changed dramatically, the light became dark, and I needed a little quiet solitude to recuperate, regroup, and change gears. October through December are my biggest three months of the year for sales, and I need to be ready for it.

Silence. Naps. Cups of tea, bowls of soup, lots of vegetables. Puttering around, cleaning, organizing, and going to bed early. No deadlines or places to be. I've rather enjoyed it, and I think quite frankly that I needed it badly.

This week will be a bit of the same, but gearing up for Salmon Days on the weekend. I've got space in my head now to create again. And I've been quietly working on catching up on all things, like bookkeeping and paperwork and orders.

The leaves on the trees are turning lovely colors. If only it wasn't so blowy and wet. I had sort of forgotten about the comfort of being indoors, snuggled in warmth and hiding out from the demands of the world. Lovely.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Adjustments

I've juggled inventory this week, gotten some soap back, and taken stock. Most of the soaps that were temporarily "out of stock" on the web site are back. I'm still waiting on cinnamon spice and sacred smoke to cure a little more, but I think everything else is there. I'm going through the product lists again today, making adjustments and getting it all back online and spruced up.

Everything needs attention and maintenance, I guess. Just to make sure the little details are all on track. Inventory messages, colors and flavors available, all that stuff. After web site morning, I'm back to making more soap, and cleaning my desk. I've gotten it amazingly, sparkly clean. Now it's the little row of piles on the floor that need to be tackled - "to file" etc. My goal is one pile per day this week, so that every darn piece of paper that had accumulated here is handled, put away, or finally tossed. It's starting to look pretty good. The order and organization is making me sane again.

And I've gotten just enough space in my head to start thinking about fall projects - like decorating the house and doing stuff in the garden and picking up that knitting again. Maybe it's just an illusion, because I've really only got a week before Salmon Days, and then the whole November and winter holiday stuff needs to be full on. But I'm not thinking about any of that this week. I refuse. I need a window. Just a few more days of peace and quiet.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Three Days Later

It's been 3 days? Wow, I've lost all sense of time. I felt like I should stop by and follow up. Say something about what's been happening.

Time has been moving so fast it almost stands still. Do you know that feeling? It's all rushing by so fast, and there is so much packed in, that it just becomes one big blur, and you feel like you are outside watching it spin past, not even experiencing it? And suddenly a few days are gone and you don't even remember being there, or what happened, or if you ate anything, how you got there and did you drive home and what route did you take or was there traffic? Was it cold or hot? I must have worn those clothes yesterday because they are on top of the mountain of laundry, but I don't remember it.

What I can say is this: the Farm Girls Holiday was sorta slow, since it was a first ever show. But it's a real far with baby pigs, and ducks and goats and kittens, corn and pumpkins and rusty old stuff. The barn was so, so cold. But they had a lunch counter and good food. I spent too much money on antiques and sweet doo-dads. Some really good crafters and fun demos and everyone worked so hard to make it work. I hope it happens again next year and that we can get it off the ground. It's a lovely setting with wonderful people. Just wish we all could have made a little more money.

And the Puyallup Fair was a big success - up overall from last year. Some folks were down a little, but others were up, and I'm happy to say that I am in the second category (way up!). I did very well, and am very pleased with the results, and even more pleased that it's over and I'm done. I tore it all down this morning and spent the rest of the day putting it all way - both shows. Inventory, counting, cleaning and organizing.

I amazed myself that I could even get out of bed and function this morning. It felt bleak, but I knew I had to pop right up and drive down there early. And it was such sweet relief to finally be done today - the drive home was bliss. Orders out, studio cleaned up, house put back to rights. An actual meal cooked. Tomorrow I may tackle laundry - big doings. I'll need to go a little slow and reconnect with the world after this whirlwind of activity, stress, and doing too much. It kind of feels like a dream, or like it was already a month ago instead of just a few days ago, or this morning even. Each day has been a month long, at least. Or was it a year ago already that I had a vacation in Quebec? Oofah. What is this thing we call time?

What I'm grateful for today: warm sunshine, a pan of lasagna, vacuuming the dusty corners, a day with only one deadline, burying my face in the soft belly fur of a cat that forgot who I was.