Thursday, April 26, 2007

Beach Babe

I'm off! I'm heading to Mexico for a few days of sun and beach lounging!

There are several milestone birthdays in our family this year. Dad's is first - he turns 75 on Saturday. So we're doing a little family reunion celebration thingie, renting a house on the beachfront in Loreto, Mexico. It's a rather small spot, still a bit old school, but about to become the next big thing in resort destinations, or so they say.

Any orders which came in after noon today, or will come in between now and Tuesday evening will pile up here, waiting until I return, and will be processed and attended to Wednesday, May 3. That's my first day back in the office/studio. I'll have a little sunburn, I'm sure. I've been doing a little self-tanning on my ghost white legs this week, in hopes that when I don the scrunchy swimsuit tomorrow I won't cause painful eye glare. And I have to say, there are good self-tanners and bad. I saw an orange lady at Fred Meyer yesterday with smeary spots all around her ankles. Don't do that. I like the slow ones that just give you a gold glow. The Jergens "Natural Glow" one I tried was alright as far as color, but it was incredibly stinky. I couldn't stand myself. The L'Oreal "Sublime Glow" is the best I've used so far. It doesn't get as dark, but has a little golden reflective shimmer in the lotion that really makes your skin look sexy. Me likey - I highly recommend that brand.

The panic never really set in. Last year's swimsuit is workable. The skirts still buttonable. So I'm set to go. A little toenail polish and I'm out. See ya on the flip side!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fingers crossed

Today is a big week for show notifications and I'm waiting on several. I'm anxious to finalize my summer schedule, get it all up on the web site, and print out the little calender insert that I put in the newsletter. I am going on vacation this weekend, and I just want to have everything in place so that next week I can get that summer mailing finished, printed and shipped out. May is such a busy month for me that I need to get as much organized as possible.

What I know at this very minute is that I DID get into Sixth Street Fair again, in Bellevue the last weekend of July. I'll have my same spot right in front of the California Pizza Kitchen. I'm incredibly excited about all that - it was one of my best shows last year. And I DID get into Art a la Carte, which is the little island of an art festival in the middle of Taste of Tacoma on the last weekend of June. Still waiting with fingers crossed on a couple more. I will probably not get the web site updated until next week, since I'm in a flurry of last minute preparations before I leave in the wee hours of dawn Friday morning.

It's been a busy day in Dollville, and tomorrow will probably be a day of panic and packing, but I'll make it a point to stop in here and do the final update before I'm off to MEXICO!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tears for my friends

The weather was sunny, warm and beautiful this past weekend in Mt Vernon. It brought out crowds of people, but not a lot of buying. Maybe it's too close to tax time? And the timing of the parade and pouring rains in Puyallup kept the crowds away. So it ended up being a bit disappointing as far as sales are concerned, but as Betty said, "it's better than a poke in the eye." I'll take her word for it, she's been in the business since before I was born.

Years and years ago, the tulip festival show in Mt Vernon was one of my very first outdoor street fair shows. I was just getting my feet wet, had a dinky little garden tent and a rather amateur, small display. At that first spring show, a gal came by, stopped to admire the soap and we started chatting. Such a lovely woman, Linda, and it turns out she was hoping to start a little candle making business with her best friend Kathy. We talked for a long time about getting started and I gave her whatever little tips and hints I knew at that time, in my rather meager experience. The following day, she brought Kathy by to meet me, who is also the nicest woman you could ever hope to meet.

The short version is they DID start their candle business, began doing shows, and their path has sort of meandered the same path as me. We found ourselves at many of the same shows, often as neighbors, while they travelled in other directions too. It was always a pleasure to catch up with them, share experiences, tips, and laugh at all the crazy things we had in common. Both of them were always so sweet to take care of me, always checking to see if I needed a break since there was two of them, or plumping up my display and restocking for me when I wasn't around. It was just a little over a year ago that they decided to get out of the business. They wanted more time with their families, and as the crafting business got tougher for all of us, they decided that the work they were putting into it was far more than the small profits they were splitting.

Kathy stopped by my tent on Saturday in Mt Vernon, the one place where we always saw each other, even last year after they gave up the show. She was alone this time. Linda is sick. Very, very sick. With cancer everywhere, undiagnosed and misdiagnosed until now it's totally consumed her insides. It's heartbreaking. And the last little bit of time left may very well be harder for Kathy than it is for Linda. She is trying to be strong, trying to figure out what to say and do, working out her own fears and grief and rage at the injustice. They've been best friends their whole lives, pals since they were kids. This cancer thing is so unfair, and it's happening to almost everyone I talk to lately -- someone in their family, or a close friend, there is nobody untouched by their own personal experience with this horrible disease. Why, why, why?

Send out a little white light for Linda. And for Kathy too. I love those gals.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day


"The issues that confront us may seem so huge, so complicated, so difficult to deal with that it's hard to believe that anything we can do will have a meaningful impact. But there are a lot of us in the world. A lot of people doing a lot of little things could have a huge impact. And by doing something, we are also demonstrating that lots of people really do care." -- Michael Norton in 365 Ways to Change the World (Free Press)

Idealbite.com is a sassy little web site that gives you great little doable ideas for going green -- in painless bite-sized tips that come daily to your email box if you sign up.

Grist.org is another cool online resource, chock full of tips, advice, snarky commentary, blogs and the ever-popular "Ask Umbra" advice column. Send one of their Earth Day e-cards.

Drink a glass of Fetzer wine. They are the 6th largest premium winery in the US and are completely organic producers. Their mission statements and philosophy are truly refreshing. So is the wine itself, winning numerous awards.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Soap Notes

I forgot to mention that I will have my "Tulip Fields" soap at the two shows this week. I make a smallish batch of tulip soap each year especially for the Tulip Festival show in Mt Vernon, and I just bring it around with me in the spring until it's gone.

It's bright pink and scented with a so-called tulip scent. They don't actually have much fragrance, especially when they are in a small bunch. But when you get out in the fields, you can smell a bit of floral and a lot of green leaf and stems. So I've tried to re-create that somewhat. It's lightly floral and pretty, with a sprinkling of aloe vera and grass to make it really fresh and not powdery or bathroomy. The scent changes a bit year to year, because I usually toss in a little fragrance oil samples or left overs, but it's quite similar too. Like sourdough bread starter, I have a largish bottle of the base fragrance that I use and just add a little bit new to it each time.

And I'm breaking the news here first that the Havana soap scent is done. Maybe I've said it before, I don't know. But it's the pipe tobacco scented soap that I've had for years and years. I don't always have it with me, but it's been on the web site pretty consistently. It's a little bit of a cult favorite, and if I had to describe it, it's a bit on the sweet side with an almost chocolatey-vanilla-coconut undertone. Not smoky at all, but more like the old time pipe tobacco in big glass jars on shelves behind the counter. Anyway, the fragrance was discontinued, oh, about 6 years ago. I had stocked up at that time so I had a big bunch of it that would last until I could figure something else out. I made the last batch of that stuff in January. And I'm down to just a few bars.

In the meantime, I've searched high and low for a replacement. Really, I've searched every nook and cranny for years. I've tried a million samples of other types. I've begged the original suppliers to get it back and the answer was always no. But last November they replied that they were considering bringing it back after the first of the year. Well, nope. Then it was March or April. Now it's probably hopeless. It's just not popular enough across the board. And they had to find a new supplier to try to match the old formulation, which didn't go well. So the party is over -- at least for now. I'll keep my eyes open, but I'm not that optimistic. And frankly, all the other tobacco fragrances out there that I tried were absolutely pukey, so I'm not going to pursue that.

If anyone is truly dying for it, give me a call. I will dole out the last dozen bars or so to the most desperate. And as of now, it's off the web site and in safe keeping.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Festivals Schmestivals

I had such a fun day yesterday, training with Emily at the Collage shop, and things are going really well, even though hardly anybody knows I'm there yet. And as promised, I've updated the calendar on the web site to include my work shifts over there, just in case anyone wants to stop by and visit with me. I'm still splitting the space during May with the other soap gal, Sarah the Soap Lady. We're planning for early June to finally transition over, and I'll have the entire display rack for my products. But most of the product line is there now anyway, and it's just a quick stop to pick up anything you just have to have now - no waiting, no shipping.

So this week is two shows. When it rains it pours, I guess. First, the Puyallup Spring Fair - which is a mini version of the Fair in September. I'm still participating with the Artists in Action group, but for this show we are set up in the North Lobby of the Hobby Hall, at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

Dates: April 19 -22
Hours: Thurs: 3 pm - 10 pm, Fri & Sat: 10 am - 10 pm, Sun: 10 am - 7 pm
Admission: $8
Parking: FREE
Link: The Puyallup Fair

Then, starting Friday, I'll be at the Mount Vernon Tulip Festival Street Fair. This outdoor street fair is held in conjunction with the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival - and the tulips are blooming now! Located on First St. in downtown Mt Vernon, it is 7 blocks of local artists and food vendors, with a wide variety of arts, crafts, and garden items.

Dates: April 20 -22
Hours: Fri 10-6, Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5
Soapworks Studio booth location: Booth #70, same location as previous years. Almost at the corner of Myrtle St, in front of Draft Pics sports bar. I love this spot, because that bar has excellent food (a killer breakfast) and nice warm bathrooms just a hop away. Let's hope the weather is more sunny than showery and folks drive up to see the tulip fields.

And just one side note on another topic altogether -- it's seems odd to be talking about tulips and brunch when everyone else is talking about the killings. I'm shocked, horrified and saddened by yesterday's events at Virginia Tech, but I'm also so grateful to be living in a country where a shooting rampage of that magnitude is at the top of a very short list, and not an everyday occurrance which seems to be happening in other places around the world. I can't imagine what it must be like to live in daily violence and bloodshed, while I live such a cushy little existence. Why can't human beings stop fighting and killing each other?

Monday, April 16, 2007

The week begins

My, it was a lovely weekend here, with just the right mix of showers at night and sun during the day that the plants outside look like they have doubled in size since last week. I took a couple of hours off Thursday to put in some new starts and baby tomato plants, plus the freshly budding dwarf japanese maple I bought for the new front yard. I wanted to get them in the dirt before the rains came, and it was just the right timing.

So last week was generally a success - the taxes were finished and mailed, a new round of show applications shipped off, tons of sprays, lip balms, foot balm made. Orders caught up. Summer mailing started, and lots of time spent updating the calendar on the web site. Supplies ordered. Packaging commenced for this week's shows. I made a lot of progress, but obviously there is more to be done this week too. And I'm headed off this morning to Collage for another training shift on the cash register and such. Would it help if I listed my schedule here and on the calendar in case anyone wanted to stop by to see me? Probably that's a good idea, and it just came to me while I typed this, so I'll confirm the May dates and do that later today.

This week is pretty intense with shows - the Puyallup Spring Fair sets up Wednesday, and I work out there all day Thursday. Then the Mt Vernon Tulip Festival street fair is Friday through Sunday. I'll post all the details tomorrow when I have the one day in the office to finish up everything. Happy Monday!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cupcake is Back!

Yesterday was lip-balm-o-rama day. One whole day of nothing but catching up on all the lip balm making that I have been meaning to do for weeks. So all the flavors are stocked up. And yes, the CUPCAKE flavor is back. I had been out of it for a little while, and lots of people noticed.

So it's back up on the web site. And it's available for all takers. Just give a hoot.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Earth Friendly

Today is linkie bits abouts going green:

Kimberly-Clark, parent company to Kleenex and Scott brands, refuses to stop using virgin paper fiber from the endangered North American Boreal forests, which represent one quarter of the world's remaining intact ancient forests, vital to fighting global warming. Greenpeace is leading the protest, and if you are so inclined, you can send a message to them, by visiting KleerCut.net and voicing your opposition to Kimberly Clark's clear-cutting.

Treehugger.com is a great resource for news on the green front, covering everything from transportation, to clothes, to policy, to weddings. With over 24 blog postings a day on a wide range of subjects, how to articles and links to take action.

And I just found out about Eco Encore - right here in Seattle! If I ever get a minute to sort through all my oldy moldy cd collection I'm headed right over there. This is how I think it works - you donate your old books, cds, dvds, video games etc to them. They sell them online (Amazon and whatnot) and the money goes to a number of local (Northwest) environmental organizations. It's a winning combination all around. You get a clean house, the stuff gets recycled in a good way, the money goes to environmental groups who are helping to stop global warming, and it's all in the 'hood.

Finally, a place you can OPT-OUT of those annoying pre-screened invitations that come in the mail for credit cards and insurance. The Opt-Out Prescreen site lets you do it electronically online for 5 years, or gives you the option of filling in a form online that you print and mail in order to be deleted permanently. Imagine! Never receiving another "pre-screened" credit card offer again. There must be some catch - or loophole. I just know they will find a way to still send me junk mail, but it can't hurt to try.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Target Practice

Apologies for going missing. I know how lousy it is to come back and keep finding the same lousy post. But I'm going to have to be sporadic all week.

I haven't done my taxes yet. I know. *eyeroll* I'm a last-minute deadline gal, but never usually this bad. I do my stupid bookkeeping and taxes and all the financial stuff myself. I'm not great with math, but I've been struggling my way through it since the very start. If I handed it over to someone else, I would never have any idea what my situation was or what I was doing. And it's honestly not that bad, but it's time consuming. Especially when you have to triple and quadruple check yourself because you have some dyslexia with numbers.

And I've got two big shows next week that I'm trying to gear up for - Mt Vernon's Tulip Festival weekend and the Puyallup Spring Fair. I need to be starting my summer newsletter . . . well at least starting something. Plus training at the shop (Collage) and working out the hinkies. And there's a bazillion other things I'm fiddling about with too this week. So I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and not that talky.

Cheers - at least I'm saving you from 7 whole days of whining and pity parties! Hope you all are having a jolly week. I'll check in when I can.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saturday Slalom

Stirring soap, paying bills, bank deposits, cleaning house, laundry, grocery shopping, prepping food for big Easter Sunday Brunch tomorrow, pulling out all the decorations and dishware, running errands, tearing down the Top Notch show, unloading the car and unpacking the debris, harvesting the new rhubarb.

I worked my first training shift at the Collage shop yesterday - it was fun! And I sold stuff too!

I've added all the information to the web site under "shops" as a reference. New button. Yep, I do my own web site too. So many hats.

Small gift to any blog readers -- ALERT! If you are reading this blog, and you are wanting to go to the Best of the Northwest show in Magnuson Park, May 11-13 . . . I just got a little handful of "Admit 2 free" cards in the mail that I can give away. I think there are 10. So if you want to go for free, shoot me an email and I'll pop it off in the mail to you. First come, first served. Get 'em while they're hot.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Collage!

Sorry, I meant to post this yesterday, but I've been a little under the weather, and so fatigued that it was all I could do to drag my butt through the necessaries all day.

The scoop is that I was asked to join a little artist's co-op type gift shop in Kirkland a couple of months ago. It's called Collage, and it's located in the Carillon Point complex, just across from the entrance to the Woodmark Hotel. There are about 25 artists, ranging from baby clothes to jewelry to cards to clothing to glass to whatever, and some nice little commercial gifty stuff too mixed in, just to cover all the bases.

Sarah Anderson, The Soap Lady from Snohomish, has been the soap gal there for the past 5 years, but she's moving on to her other love, fiber art, and needing time for family so she's slowly moving away from the shop. I'm the replacement soap gal. This month we are sharing the display - half the area is hers and half is mine - as we figure it all out. So I set up my little shelves of soap, sprays, sachets, and gift items on Wednesday. It's not my total and complete line, but most of it, and all the most popular stuff. Next month, May, we are working towards the whole space being just me. Fingers crossed that it all works out. (Hint: if you are going over there, it wouldn't hurt to mention that you love my stuff or are glad to see me there, *wink)

So for those of you who have forever been asking about where in the Seattle area you can find a shop to pick up some of the products, it's finally here! It will be especially convenient for folks on the Eastside, but it will be the one local shop that will have the full array of (almost) everything in the product line. I'll keep it stocked with all the usual suspects, and bring over the seasonals as they are available. The only things that may not always be fully stocked are a few of the more unique soap scents, like Sacred Smoke, Havana and Anise -- just because there is always a limit on space and I need to have room for the most requested items. Anyway, if you have a question - either call me or the shop before you head over, just to make sure.

Parking is free! You need to park in one of the public parking lots, take a ticket, and have it stamped at the shop - but it gives you an hour and a half of time to wander about the area, marina, etc. as well. Hope to see you there one bright day!

Deets: Collage, at Carillon Point
2245 Carillon Point, Kirkland WA 98033
Drive straight into the complex, it's just past the first stop sign on the left, near the entrance to the parking garage and around the circle, directly across from the Woodmark Hotel.
Phone: 425-828-7557

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Racing Day

Big day today. I'm rushing over to Kirkland to set up my (half-size for now) display at Collage. It's an artist's co-op and gift shop at Carillon Point. I'll share all the scoop tomorrow when I have more time to explain all the details. But I'm really excited to start this new opportunity.

And from there, I race off to Enumclaw to set up the Top Notch show and work the rest of the day as part of the set up crew. I'm already exhausted from all prep yesterday, plus the late night Easter egg dying party, and I've just generally been a little low this week. So I expect to come home and drop dead.

So I'm packing up the car snacks and heading out of Dodge. You'll get to hear all about it tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Top Notch Craft Show

This week is the Top Notch Craft Show in Enumclaw. Melissa puts on a cozy little show in the VFW Hall and it will be chock full of Easter gift and decorating items and all things spring.

Dates: April 5 - 7
Hours: Thurs - Sat, 10am-7pm
Location: VFW Hall, 44426 - 244th SE, Enumclaw

The last couple of years, I've had those lovely little canvas tote bags with a tulip design that I used for spring gift sets. Well, they've been discontinued, which is quite disappointing really. But there is another design that I have for this year - it's a black canvas bag with a dramatic pink and yellow lily design. With a bar of soap and one of Miki's sweet hand-crocheted cotton wash cloths, it makes a perfect gift for spring. It's not on the web site, just at the next couple of shows, because these bags were a little hard to come by too, and I'm not sure how long they'll last.

I'm always on the prowl for the perfect packaging!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fool's

I just can't wait to garden and plant things. It's killing me that there are hardly any plants at the usual drive-bys like Home Depot, Lowe's, Fred Meyer. We are re-landscaping the entire front yard at the moment. Had to rebuild the rock wall and now have a huge clean slate to work with. I have no idea what I'm going to do. I keep planning it and then re-planning it and changing my mind every half hour. It's harder to start from scratch I think, much easier to just fill in a few bare spots.

The wall is done as of Saturday afternoon. I don't even want to post a picture because it only looks like mud. The entire front yard is all dirt, not even a blade of grass. I think I'm going to do some before and after photos later, after I get it planted. Anyway, we still have to have a ton or two of topsoil delivered to fill in the top part before I can plant. And of course, there are hardly any plants out right now. Just the usual industrial landscaping stuff and a few stray perennials.

It's going to take so much time, like a whole year of seasons to find the right things that will take turns blooming between spring, summer and fall. I bought a pretty little Japanese Maple - a dwarf one that will only get 3-4 feet high, called Red Haired Dancing Girl. I think I have the perfect spot for it in the scheme of things, but I'm still shuffling it all around in my head. The whole project turned out so differently than we had originally planned that I've scrapped some of my previous ideas. But it's a good thing.

Anyway, I've been spending every free moment either picking around in the dirt, racing around to plant stores and nurseries, wandering around online looking for ideas, bulbs, starts, or thumbing through books and saved magazine spreads to try to get some kind of cohesive plan hatched. I was sort of thinking I could just come up with some master plan, some gorgeous show garden design and then do it once and stand back in awe. How naive. This afternoon I realized that it will probably be a constant work in progress and double the amount of time I spend weeding, pruning and digging around.

Hopefully this will be more fun than chore. Bring on the warmer weather. I want to stuff in tomatoes and zucchini and herbs and sunflowers and dahlias and . . . .

Oh, big note. As of today, the tax rate in Seattle changes from 8.8% to 8.9%. Everything will be adjusted on invoices and orders that go out after today. Who knows what they do with all our tax dollars. But the tax man will not be denied.