Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Full circle

Ohmigosh, tomorrow is February already. Hearts. Flowers. And no more puttering around. Things have to be DONE.

I've got a stack of show applications to work on today. I always think it will be easy peasy -- just fill in the form, write a check and shoot it out. But now that I have it all in front of me, it's a load of other stuff too. Like photos of products. Really good ones, not the old fuzzy stuff I have laying around from a few years back. So there's gotta be a photo shoot. The booth picture - I know I have one here somewhere from last summer that wasn't so bad. Geez, you'd think I'd be a little more organized and plan to take some good photos somewhere along the way, right? Well, I do. It's just that I keep changing stuff. And I'm a little bit of a perfectionist. So I keep shuffling the booth displays around, keep experimenting with new packaging and products. All of which leaves me with nothing current to just shove in the envelope.

And I don't want to send along the holiday brochure. So that means I need to get this spring thing to the printer asap. Which also means I need to finish up the darn draft of the letter, and update the brochure too. Which brings me full circle to having the darn calendar finalized. And face plant into the pile of show applications in front of me.

Let's see. Packaging the new stuff, finding the extra lights. Where is that camera? I know I need to re-charge the battery. Is that one show really on the same day as that other one? Can I do both? Where's my day planner? Dig out the applications from last year so I can request the same booth spaces (or not). Jiggy with my printer/copier/faxer which only likes to do one task a day. So if it's printing, it is definitely not copying.

See. Things really need to get done around here. I can't waste any more time diggity blogging about it. Happy hump day!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I've just finished winnowing my database and mailing list. It's a little bit bittersweet, saying goodbye to old friends. But I was pleasantly surprised to see how many new friends had been added in just the last year too.

I try to clean up the list once a year, always in January. The fall and winter newsletters always have the largest response, so I send it out to as many folks as possible. But the spring newsletter, actually the whole season, is much smaller, so it's the best time to start fresh. Hopefully I didn't dump anyone who still really wants to be there. But I flip through each record, checking the date they last ordered, and if it was 5 years ago -- gone (unless I know them as show shoppers only or other special circumstances). If they just called to request a brochure, oh about three years ago, but never ordered, gone.

Since this is such a small business, in order to survive I have to keep a fairly tight ship. Mostly this whole newsletter thing is to stay in touch with people who mail order the soap. I like to communicate with the folks who regularly come to the shows too, but that's harder to do. I recognize so many faces at the shows, but I don't always know their names. If they pay with checks or credit cards, I sometimes can take a note, just for my own records, and update their file on the database. I like to keep track of my best customers and friends. It's not only good business, but it's more fun that way.

But I'm sure that I've lost somebody who really likes the newsletter. Please do call, email or let me know at the next show if you really like to get the letter but missed the spring one. I'm very happy to keep anyone on the list who waits anxiously by the mailbox to get the latest. Really, I do. It's flattering and it's not a big deal to buy a few more stamps.

What I dread the most is being a piece of junk mail. Tastes change and people move on. I realize that. I'm not offended. I do the same thing myself. So I hate continuing to bombard people's homes who just don't want to be bothered. Maybe they ordered once for a gift, but they don't use the stuff themselves. So for whatever reason - I don't need a full explanation - if you want to cut back on all the envelopes coming your way, please also drop me a line somehow. I'm pleased to accommodate your request.

Now that I've got the website listed on all the labels - heck, now that I've got the website really cooking, and this here bloggity blog too - I'm hoping there are enough ways for people to find me, find the products, order what they need, check out the calendar. It's no longer the same as when I just started out, and all I had was that funky little newsletter with a little copied order form and sketchy list of shows tucked inside. I felt like I was living in the shadows. But now . . . NOW I'm out there for everyone to seee.

So as familiar names were getting chucked, it was sad to realize that they haven't called since say 2001. Was it really that long ago? We were such pals for while, what happened? It was also a pleasant surprise to see all the new names of people who've just jumped on board. And realize how far this has really come. It's not just my acquaintances and my parent's friends who wanted to support my new endeavor. It's people from all over who have tried my products and want it just because it's good stuff. Yippee ki yay!

Alright, maybe it's all a little melodramatic. It's just housecleaning of a database for cripes sake. But you've got to take your moments somewhere.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hokey Pokey

One step forward? Two steps back? I can't tell if I'm making progress or falling incredibly far behind.

I spent the weekend on house projects. The weather was no nice -- in the sunshine -- that I was able to be outside in just shirtsleeves working on stuff in the barren dead zone I call the back yard. After cleaning the whole inside of the house, I decided to tackle the outside. I washed all of the exterior windows. Then rescued the stupid kittens out of the cherry tree, which was a lot more complicated than it sounds. And began hacking away at dead parts of the bamboo jungle along the side. There was weeding, removing a couple of bushes, digging out frozen, dead, soggy masses. Bruised, scratched and exhausted, I had to call it quits when the sun moved on. And now there are piles and mounds of ripped out greenery (brownery?) all over which doesn't fit into the barrels. It will have to wait a couple of weeks until next time, I guess. So is that progress? Or just a huge mess?

Sunday was a closet cleaning day. A couple of closets are cleared out, nice. But the dining rooms is piled with boxes of charitable donations, things that need to find a new home, things that need to be cleaned before putting back in. It all looks messier than before. And frankly, it looks like even more projects for the "to do" list. I should have just left it all alone.

But truth be told, I started all that because I was avoiding my actual work. I'm so completely unmotivated to do what really, really needs to be done. I spaced out and missed the application deadline for a major show, so there's no way I'm getting into that. So depressing. I didn't get into another new one that I was really hoping for. I've got several other options that need immediate attention, and I keep hitting walls. The soap isn't getting made fast enough for all the deadlines. The spring newsletter is dangling out there, taunting me. The studio is so unorganized and messy that I feel like I can't even think in here.

So under the blanket of frustration, I am procrastinating and becoming increasingly overwhelmed. Someone needs to head straight over and light a fire under my butt so I can get moving again.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Winter Sunset


Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first

through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.

-- David Budbill, from While We've Still Got Feet

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bad Credit

My credit card terminal broke last week. The power cord snapped somehow. And since I have the most ancient little machine, nobody could get me the new part. So I was forced to "shop around" for a new merchant service, totally under the gun. I suppose it's usually that way. You don't really think about upgrading until it's broke. And then you're pressured to do something immediately, without the luxury of time to really make informed decisions.

Warning, if you'd rather have a hot stick in the eye than learn about merchant credit card processing, I know the feeling -- I've been there -- but you're about to hear way more than you want to know.

It's been a ginormous headache, researching rates and equipment with several reps. Currently I have the old imprinter thing at shows, which means I have to key it all in when I get home. It's time consuming and I don't know if I've been given a bad credit card until I get home. So the alternative is wireless, which operates pretty much the same as when you go to an actual retail location. It's the fees that make you crazy. There is a fee per transaction, which changes depending on whether it's swiped or not, whether you obtain their address, if they have a corporate card, if they have an awards type card, etc. Then there is a monthly minimum fee, a statement fee, debit card fees, fees to close out the batch, wireless fees, activation fees, supply fees, contract fees -- not to mention other specific fees like chargebacks and stuff. Each company has their own set and all of the above vary depending on which one you're talking to or what time of day it is. By the end of it, it's a wonder that they deposit any money at all in your account.

Of course they all tell you that they've got the best rate, and only tell you about the lowest percentage rate. You have to read all the fine print and ask a bazillion questions to find out the rest. So after crunching numbers, grinding up days on this, hemming, hawing, stalling - I found someone who had a replacement of the old cord. Fifteen dollars. I'm functional again. Gah!

I guess I'll need to upgrade eventually. But for the moment, I am going to just put up with my old antique way of doing things, which in the long run is probably cheaper than all that new technology with extra fees. Eventually I'll have to join the new decade . . . sooner rather than later. But at least I'm not in the panic of having nothing. And I can look around for a better deal and negotiate a little better. One of the guys sounded kind of promising -- and it's free equipment, no contract and pretty nice rates. They are sort of like used car salesmen. You need to do the dance a bit, make them cough up a little nicer package if they want your business. I'm not really into that sort of thing, but sometimes you do what you need to do. I'm putting on extra smarm protection and going back in.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Joyeux Anniversaire!

It's been exactly one year ago today since I started this little blog adventure with my very first post. I don't think I ever imagined that I would write so much and still be at it one year later. Oh my heavens, whatever shall I wear to the party?

Frankly, I'm still not completely sure what the whole purpose is. I flouder around almost daily with "what am I really trying to do here"? Mostly I wanted to just throw the doors open - instead of hiding behind them with my head buried in work. I often feel like this little business is really a partnership with my fabulous customers. Y'all influence the direction we're headed more than you know. Feedback, suggestions, just shooting the breeze at shows and whatnot has brought up ideas for all kinds of things. And I thought the blog would just be a bigger conversation, with more friends. At the very least, it's a useful way to share last minute things. And to give more detailed information about shows and specials in a more timely way.

Now that blogs are in their hey-day, it seems like there are divergent paths. Business blogs are now big business and more impersonal. They are generally marketing tools that promote the business itself and the products in a more informal way than traditional marketing methods. And personal blogs have become more and more personal - often sharing some of the most private moments, thoughts, or minutiae of the day. Mine is neither. And both.

I have purposely tried to create a little hodgepodge of everything. This is a very personal sort of one-woman business here. And it's just me, chatting with my pals. And I must admit I've enjoyed the sharing, the writing practice. I just wish more of you would leave a comment once in a while so it doesn't feel so alone over here on this side of the screen.

The blog's ultimate purpose is to expand the relationship between us. It's not compelling reading (or comfortable for me) to yabber away about what I had for dinner (ok, once in a while) but I think sharing my inspirations and intentions about what I do has value. And I believe that if you are more informed about the products and what goes into them, you'll be able to make better buying decisions. Of course I'm hoping that y'all become addicted to the stuff and need lots more of it :)

So as long as that is clear as mud, let's just keep the ball rolling, shall we?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Calendar Girl

I'm doing some housekeeping on the web site today, working on the calendar. Currently there is absolutely nothing, zero, zilch, nada, listed there for this year. No worries -- I'm planning on having the usual show schedule, not too many changes from years past.

I think everyone is getting a slow start this year. Maybe when all the holiday and weather events wound down, collectively we just decided to take a deep breath and go a little slow for a week or two, in the relative quiet of early January. I don't know about you, but I've been feeling a little gray, just like the skies. Which is to say, just a little colorless, a little bland - no excitement. It kind of feels good not to have deadlines, a million things to do, places to rush around to.

Anyway, the information and applications for the spring shows have been a little late coming out too this time. I've just started to find out dates, and there are several shows that won't be happening at all. The Starving Housewives spring shows are over. They just didn't have enough success lately to warrant all that work. The crafters too -- more of them had decided not to bother hauling themselves to a spring show for the small dollars they were able to scrape up. But Lord Hill and Vasa Park are still on. The April shows are still getting lined up. A couple of summer things are just popping up. So now that I've actually got something to put in the calendar, I'll spend some time cleaning it up today.

And I have to confess, I'm going to push off the spring newsletter too. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that I was aiming for Feb 1 to send it out. Because that isn't going to happen now. Spring seems so far away and I'm just not ready. I've been thinking that it's too soon, maybe pushing it a little. I'd like to take a couple of extra weeks and really have my ducks in a row before I start up the parade again. This time I don't want to start the year off scrambling to have enough ready before I haul off and make the big announcements.

At least that's what I was thinking this weekend. I pulled up the calendar and opened a new document to begin writing the letter, and lo and behold, there was just blank pages. But I'm working on it. Jotting off emails to confirm dates, making phone calls, getting a schedule in place. And the letter is percolating in the back of my head. It will all come together, but needs just a bit more time in the oven.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lights on, we're home

As I mentioned earlier, I'm hoping to post a "green" message sort of semi-regularly with tips for changing the course of catastrophic climate change that we are on. This week's "green" post of the week is about lightbulbs. It was the first item on the "10 things you can do today" list for starting a process of becoming more aware and active in the effort to reverse the damage. I've actually found dozens of versions of the "10 things" lists, which differ slightly, but LIGHTBULBS seems to be numero uno in all of them.

Last week's big news story is that 2007 is expected to be the hottest year on record. And it's essentially due to greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide which are becoming trapped in our atmosphere and warming up the planet -- now to alarming rates. And the US contributes more than 30% of the carbon dioxide emissions -- more than bunches of countries put together, more than entire continents. So we need to start here.

1. Change a lightbulb. Replacing just one standard lightbulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Here's the impact: If every household in the U.S. replaced a burned-out bulb with an energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent bulb, the cumulative effect is enormous. It would prevent more than 13 billion pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere – which is like taking more than a million cars off the road for an entire year. Another site said it this way: If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.

People, this is HUGE. Yes, the bulbs cost a bit more initially, but they actually save you money in energy costs. Energy Star bulbs will save you $30 in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulb. And they last 10 times longer than a standard bulb anyway.

It's kind of the same rationale for using hand made soap. Yes, the bars cost a bit more than a family-pack of Ivory. But they last longer, they have less scary stuff in them, they save your skin from dryness and itchiness, which actually results in you having to spend less on creams or lotions to compensate, and voila! they are actually more economical and healthier for you.

Anyway, I've just been out shopping for new bulbs and have changed virtually every lightbulb in my house. I was amazed at some of the new technology. They've got so many more kinds now! Dimmable ones, outdoor spotlights, and they even have natural light or regular soft light bulbs. They don't have to have that harsh fluorescent look any more. Yay, I like a little more ambience.

A most excellent bonus to all this is that I actually get more light than I had before and I'm still using a fraction of the energy. The new bulbs use much tinier amounts of energy to emit lumens. So I can put the teeny wattage bulb in a so-called 60 watt lamp which actually emits the equivalent of about 75 or 100 watts of light, while using only 15-20 actual watts. My little old vintage lamps and shades don't get hot and I get a much lighter, brighter house. Instead of worrying about turning off lights in every room, I can have a couple of itty-bitty watt lamps on and actually see around here, all while using up just a fraction of the energy I would have otherwise. My lifestyle is improved in every way. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Plain Vanilla

As I was sifting through my day here, I sorta read through the last few days of posts and realized there's been a bit of whining about the weather. Sorry about that. I usually love, love, love snow and look forward to a little white stuff with great anticipation. I think it's just the accumulation of so many little hurdles that I'm not used to. It's thrown me out of whack a bit -- all this hibernating indoors and having to delay activities. It's all temporary. And it's all little stuff.

Hey, has anyone tried the Vanilla Cake and Baking Mix from Trader Joe's? I just did today. I've seen it on the shelf for a long time, but it looked so plain, so vanilla. It was just me and all the other old lady shut-ins shopping at TJ's this afternoon. The shuttle van had taken the gals from some nearby retirement living home for their weekly outing. Quite a big day. Maneuvering the aisles was a little trickier than usual, what with all the ladies parked in the middle, idly chatting, and maybe a tad hard of hearing when I was mumbling "excuse me" a hundred times to get through. But they were busy exchanging opinions about some item or another, explaining the complexities of ethnic flavors to their gal pals.

Back to the cake. It's a gorgeous thing. Flecked with real vanilla bean. A charming little dense and buttery breakfast type cake. Not your big, fluffy layer cake. So delightful with a cup of tea, still warm. The perfect antidote to a gray, winter, January day. A day in which another vital and important piece of something in your life breaks down. Today it was the credit card machine. C'est la vie. I've got cake. Mmmm.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

White Out

I woke up to a flurry of white. My heart sank. It was coming down hard and we got another couple of inches. For the folks trying to make it back to work after the long weekend, it was a horrid commute. Thankfully, I get to work from home and traipse around in my jammies and fluffy slippers.

We usually only get one little snow blast in a year, about every couple of years. And ordinarily I would be jumping for joy, hurtling myself into my snow boots to head out and catch snowflakes on my tongue and crunch around the neighborhood in the silence of it all - the normal routine interrupted for one short day, a respite in the hustle bustle of every day. But we've been snowed under forever (ok, a week). This IS the routine. Another cup of coffee, parked in front of the tv watching the cancelled things scroll across the screen. I need to get out today. Mail stuff. Run errands. This is so odd. I swear I would be having better weather if I lived in Minnesota instead of Seattle.

I'm restless and frustrated and comforting myself with creamy noodles dishes. But I'm still packing up the orders. Writing out bills. Shooting for a little bit of melting by late afternoon in which I will actually leave the house and do real things in the real world.

Is this just a freak anomoly? Are we going to be the new Alaska? Is California going to be the new Portland? I need to know. I need more blankies. And woolie socks.

Monday, January 15, 2007

King for a day

In the midst of my pity party yesterday, I realized that it's really hard to gain momentum from a complete stop. So I started shuffling paper on my desk half-heartedly, trying to at least organize them into groups. Like stuff to look up, stuff to do this week, stuff to file, etc. And I got a batch of soap going. And things started to move forward. I had a semi-productive day and feel a teeny bit less like a total slacker.

If you've been by the web site lately, you may have noticed that several of the regular soap scents are not listed. It's because between the holiday rush and the little flurry of sale orders this month, my inventory got too low to keep them available. But I've been making soap, and as soon as I get a couple more weeks into the curing process, I'll post them again. They are almost there: Cedar Musk, Havana, Citrus Basil Scrub and Baby Love. Not to worry, I'll have them all online by the end of the month, in time for the newsletter to be sent. Catching up on all the usual ones too this week. And squeezing in bit of Spring stuff too. I've been a little slower with production than I would have liked, but I've got excuses, sheesh. The daily routines have all gone to pot, what with no power, no heat, no internets, cat-tastrophes, flooding, freezing, whatever the glitch du jour.

As Tim Gunn would say, "carry on," and "make it work." Words to live by.

And today is Martin Luther King Day. Damn skippy he should be honored with his own day. If you've got about 15 minutes to see what all the fuss is about -- the "I Have A Dream" speech . . . . . shivers.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


It feels like I've been hiding under a blankie for a week now, and not getting anything done. Actually, there's been a lot of action, just not a lot of progress. It's one minor catastrophe after another.

First there was the crappy snowstorm. Which won't go away. And on the coldest morning, when it was about 15 degrees, one of the kittens ran off. She showed up happily bounding around the back yard an hour later, happy as a clam, even though we had been out crunching around the block and through neighbors yards calling her until our toes froze off.

Same day, same kitten -- decides that she wants to help me make soap, leaping onto the counter and kicking over one of the just poured molds. Thought my frantic hosing had cleaned her off. But about 15 minutes later, realized that she was in trouble. More hosing, major skirmish, and she really looked not right. So we dashed off to the vet. She got the full on super suds bath to remove the stink, viewed the damage, got some fluids to flush her out, swallowed a little medicine to soothe her tummy. She had gotten a splash on the back feet and then tried to over-groom it off. So a couple of little irritations, a couple of little hairless patches and a blister on the tip of her tongue. She's back to her old self in no time and will be fine.

But the second kitty, who napped through the whole escapade, suddenly decides she no longer knows kitty number one. It's the smell of the hospital or something and she goes all skittish, growly, hissing and fighting and running off. The poor beleaguered one is so confused and despondent that her best friend has shunned her. They've been inseparable, and peas in a pod since the first day. It was very unhappy for everyone. A day and a half of cat fights and reaquanticing, we are back to the happiest best pals in the world, minus a little fur.

But we are still freezing. The furnace decided to go south. Technically I am not without heat. It's just a big operation to turn it on for a little while to heat up the house. The valve box (which we just had replaced) is not working. So there is a lot of manual carrying on, jimmying wires, flipping switches, fumbling with the panels each time we need a little heat. At night there is nothing. And it's 19 degrees outside. Which is the best part. So with the holiday weekend and all, it's going to be days of this dance.

You know those little windshield dings that the garage fills with superglue stuff? Turns out that when it gets really, really cold for days on end, and then you take little road trips in between, blasting the defroster and heater for a while, and then parking the car back out on the frigid streets over night . . . those little dings turn into monster cracks that travel across the windshield while you are driving. I guess I'll be scrabbling around to get a new windshield this week.

I'm supposed to be working on soap stuff. But I can't even face my mail pile any more. I don't want to do a single thing. I just want to hide out here, under the blankie, and wait for this frozen hell to thaw and life to get back to normal.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Snow Day

It snowed buckets last night. Started with a blizzard of a hail storm that blanketed the lawn with Dippin' Dots. But then turned to big, fat flakes and kept snowing for hours. It's hovering a few degrees above freezing and things are getting a bit slushy and mushy. But we're going to have this around for a few days.

So pretty. And the kittens can't seem to get enough of the romping in the snow. It's hard to tear myself from the window. Dreaming of steaming mugs of hot cocoa (except that I can't get to the store for milk) and a pot of stew simmering on the stove (see previous, ditto on the lack of groceries). I may have to brave the elements and head out. This would be a lot more fun if we weren't having such an avalanche of freak weather storms all in a row for months on end.

Last night was fireworks -- several explosions of light blasted through the window at the same time our cable tv and internet also went dead. Turns out it was tree branches on the lines which blew a transformer and several blocks around us lost power. Luckily we did not lose our electricity, and even more luckily, the cable returned by this morning so we could watch the news, surf the internets and generally go about our daily activities. But it's really getting old, y'all -- I'm feeling a little less "comcastic" every day.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Let it Snow

just a little trace of snow for us. and thankfully no freezing slush to maneuver all week.

but the gusting winds, especially yesterday, are really doing a number on the trees around here.

i absolutely adore trees and i'm heartsick that we've lost so many this season. really big and beautiful ones that shielded us gently in their big strong arms. the leafy canopies gone forever, leaving us feeling vulnerable and exposed.

it's been a week of teaching the kittens about the outdoors -- creating boundaries, learning new skills and building trust. it's amazing how quickly they learn. and they are doing so well. when it gets warm enough to leave windows and doors open, i think we are all going to have such a nice time in the little back yard together.

projects small and large, business and personal, are underway. sale orders are coming in and bargains are going out. lots of busy work happening behind the scenes. building a structure and foundation from which to work more efficiently this year. yep, i trotted out the "work smarter, not harder" resolution again this year . . .

Friday, January 05, 2007

January Clearance Sale!

Inventory is finished and I've got quite a lot of holiday hoopla still here at the studio. Usually I box it up and put it away for the next year so I've got a little jump start when the shopping season starts in the fall. Not this time. I want to clear it out and make room for new stuff. And I wanted to share the goodies at rock bottom prices so even folks on a budget can splurge this month. While you're dieting and exercising and generally punishing yourself with New Year's resolutions (well, for at least a week or two) you can still have nice smelling stuff!

There are soaps and sprays, lip balms, solid perfumes, bath confetti and spiced hot cocoa milk bath, sachets, body scrubs . . . just a big assortment of items that I've featured throughout 2006 and still have a few in stock. This is your chance to treat yourself to twice as much of the good stuff. And you don't even have to make a trip to the mall!

Clearance Sale

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Saving the Planet

We've all heard the "global warming" predictions. But not until just recently did it really make a huge impact on me. It's not that I wasn't aware of it, I was. And it's not that I was ignoring it. I wasn't. I guess I had been living in my own little bubble of thinking that I was doing my part, for the most part. And that it would somehow be resolved.

But the weather, the shocking new circumstances, the dire predictions, and the rate of change on our planet has become so much more serious, so much more quickly. And we appear to be headed straight over the border of no return, at full speed ahead. It scares me to death that all these drastic events are going to happen during the course of my own lifetime. And that for the first half of my life, me and my generation (who I thought to be somewhat forward thinking) have been just muddling along business-as-usual, while allowing all this destruction to happen. It's our watch. It's up to us to ensure that our kids and grandkids have an earth left to live on. And it doesn't look good.

What does this have to do with my soap business and this little blog? Just that I feel compelled to do more and say more and be a voice in the conversation, in an effort to stop the madness. So I've made some resolutions. The first one is to find out more about how one little person can make a difference. And then do those things. And also share those things in my blog, hopefully inspiring even a couple people more to make a few changes. It's all the little things that add up.

After I saw the film, "An Inconvenient Truth," I was so shocked and horrified that it was overwhelming. The facts and the science is so clear, and nobody is immune to the catastrophes -- the heat waves, the floods, hurricane Katrina. And the news stories and articles just piled up daily. The drowning polar bears. The gigantic ice shelf that broke off in an hour.

Ok, so I'm not going to be all preachy about it. It's true. All the scientific data is the same. There is no other conclusion. There are a few spin-types who are in denial or are trying to hang onto their greedy little profits. But the climate change is happening anyway. And it's happening fast.

What we need to hang onto is this: we already have the technology to make the changes necessary. We do not need to make huge sacrifices in our lifestyles (though this is will not be true later), just small, well thought out changes and attention to our daily habits. We have the power to do this right now, today.

Shamelessly ripped from is a list of 10 things you can do right now.

1. Change a lightbulb. Replacing just one standard lightbulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

2. Drive less. You'll save 1 pound of carbon dioxide for every mile you don't drive.

3. Recycle more. You'll save 2400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling half of your household waste.

4. Check your tires. Keeping your tires inflated properly can improve your gas mileage by more than 3%. Each gallon of gas saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

5. Use less hot water. So many ways to do this one.

6. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. You can save 1200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

7. Adjust your thermostat. Lowering your thermostat 2 degrees in winter, and raising it 2 degrees in summer can save 2000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year
8. Plant a tree. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

9. Turn off electronic devices. Turning off your tv, dvd, computers etc when you are not using them can save thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

10. Spread the word.

Needless to say, I'm checking off each item on the list. And I'm planning on sharing more tips once per week -- so tune in, or check out, as your heart desires.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


As I may have mentioned, I'm a big list maker. So of course I'm scratching out a five-mile-long New Year's Resolution list. Big plans, big ideas. Most of it carried over from previous years until I'm so sick of looking at it that I just give up and it doesn't make the next list. Just about as effective as everybody else's resolution list.

This week is inventory. For tax purposes. Businesses need an accurate statement at the beginning of each year with a count of all supplies and products on hand. To calcuate how much was spent and sold etc. Profit/loss, accounting, financial statements. If you had any idea how difficult math and finances is for me . . . urgh. But I resolved at the very beginning to teach myself what it all meant and how to do it. And I'm still the sole accountant around here, doing my own books and taxes. So this week is inventory, as I said.

It gives me an opportunity to actually put everything away, piling up like things with like things instead of strewn about willy nilly, and see what I actually have to work with. Cleaning my entire studio, desk and work areas, which is enormously helpful. Starting with a clean slate. Tossing out all the old clutter. Putting all my ideas and lists into one big pile to cull through. Lots gets tossed, a few nuggets that were lost are now found (oh yeah, I was going to do that this year!).

And from the big pile of hen-scratched little notes on fast food napkins and backs of fliers etc, I create a plan for the year ahead which covers both business and personal goals. I'm going smaller this year. Not so many little to-do type things, but just a few well thought out big picture things. I want to see if that makes a difference in my success rate. But at the moment, it's still a bunch of shuffling and thinking and aha! moments as I wade through the destruction zone.

And I'm going to the gym today. Yes. I am. Any time now. Uh huh. It's definitely happening. As soon as I finish this one other little pile.

Oh, and I've started to put stuff on the Clearance Sale page. There will be more by early next week. Haven't gotten to the seasonal soaps, but the sprays and most of the bath stuff is there. It's a great time to stock up on scents you liked at bargain basement prices. And everything would last until next Christmas if you're one of those people that shops the clearance sales for next year. (I envy you folks who are so smart and organized.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been

- Rilke

P.S. I'm still struggling with internet connection and haven't had a line for 3 days. I have a mini-signal just for this afternoon, but won't have real service until the line outside is replaced, which could be tomorrow, next week or whenever they think they can get around to it. So please! If you need something urgent this week, please call directly. The phone still works.