Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hope for Saturday

Yep, yep, yep, I knew it. The forecast had changed for yesterday. At Taste of Tacoma we had storm clouds, breezy bits and rain, sometimes lots of it, and it got quite wet. It seemed like it changed every five minutes, from a little sunbreak to a downpour in seconds, sometimes both happening at once. And it was just volatile and threatening enough that it kept the crowds at home. I've never seen the park so empty.

There's nothing more boring than sitting there all day staring at your neighbor across the way. Especially while enduring damp, chilly weather from sun up til sun down. It just leaves you with a chill clear through your bones that takes hours to melt. But the rest of the weekend is supposed to be dry, a little sunny and a bit warmer. We're all hoping for the best. Because no matter how busy it is the next two days, there is never quite a full recovery of a show when you've lost a whole day's sales.

The sunset last night on my way home was so pretty. Dark indigo clouds, glorious purples and streaks of pink and orange. All of it mirrored exactly in an almost glass-like calm on the waters of the bay. There were just a few small boats rippling through the majestic color palette as they headed home from a day on the water. The thought crossed my mind that I needed to stop and catch a picture of it. But it was just the time of day when it all happened within minutes, late enough that the last twinkles of light was turning to dark so quickly, by the time you found a place to stop the car for a photo, it was completely changed. The fleeting nature of it makes it even more special, feeling like you caught a rare moment of nature's majesty by the sheer fact that you were in the right place at the right time.

Last year on this weekend there was a parade of skimpy sundresses, short shorts, and ice cream covered faces. Today we're hoping for it to reach 70 degrees, so I'll pack my fleece and warm socks. Ah yes, summer in the Northwest. Sometimes I long for the hot summers of my Midwest childhood. But I know I'm remembering it all rosily, without the sticky nights, sweaty before breakfast, and clouds of mosquitos. This morning the sky is a cheerful blue and the birds are chirping merrily. And I've just made a yummy bacon, cheddar and green onion quiche - ooh, which needs to come out of the oven. Gotta go --

Thursday, June 28, 2007

NOT at Choochokam

I will NOT be at the Choochokam Arts Festival this year in Langley. I just need to announce this very clearly. I have had so much confusion and chaos surrounding Choochokam this year that I want to make sure everyone knows the facts.

Yes, I applied to do the Choochokam show this year, even though the dates changed and it's on a later weekend than usual, which coincides with a couple of other shows that I usually do in July. The new committee somehow seemed to have problems getting notifications out, and specifically needed more information from me before deciding to let me in (maybe tossed my photos and brochures in the round file?). Response to my endless calls and emails was fruitless. In all the hubbub, I gave up and decided to do the West Seattle street fair again this year, which is closer to home. Sheesh, this is truly survival here and missing a show means I don't pay rent or eat. I had to have that weekend covered somehow. So when they finally called to accept me, I had already moved on.

So I WILL be at West Seattle on the weekend of July 13-15, NOT Choochokam. Now they seem to have forgotten all about our discussions, and the two people in a row who assured me that they would return my check, instead went ahead and cashed it. And even after they all apologized profusely for the mix up and assured me it would be taken care of, have gone ahead and listed me on their web site and given me a booth space anyway. Bah! I can't get in touch with anyone easily to resolve the situation. So until it's all fixed . . . I just wanted to say it here too:

I am NOT doing the Choochokam show in Langely in July. I know I've done it for years and years. It's always been a great show and I'll miss it dearly - I love going up to that little town. But the new organizers there (ha, organizers, oxymoron) have messed it up this time. Hopefully we'll all be on the same page next year. But that remains to be seen.

ETA: I've re-read my totally pissy post above and I'm sure it's all clear as mud and nobody cares. I was so steamed I couldn't even string a coherent sentence together, although you get my drift. But I've made literally dozens of calls today, to just about everyone who lives in Langley, and still can't get the grand poobah who's holding my booth fee hostage to call me back and resolve this. Still steaming and a bit panicky too now. That's a month's worth of groceries in that booth fee that was supposed to be returned!

And I really feel that I must apologize to all the dear folks doing the Taste of Tacoma show this year. It's a huge event - truly the biggest thing all summer in that neck of the woods. But it was raining all afternoon while we tried to set up stuff. Totally raining, not the little last lingering shower they were talking about. And it's got to be my fault. Because every single show I've done this summer has been drenched. It must be me. So even though the weather jokers are saying it's going to be dry with a few sunbreaks this weekend -- since I'm there? I just assume we'll get a downpour at some point. So sorry.

At least we don't live in Texas! Wow! Is the world coming to and end before winter even gets here? Stock up on survival gear now -- flashlights, batteries, canned goods, maybe an arc?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Remains of the day

In the hurry and flurry of a busy day, when you hit the ground running and are dashing in a million directions, it's hard to focus your thoughts for a little blog entry. It takes a stopping point, like the quiet of an evening moment. A moment to sit down, have a meal, and take stock of what was accomplished, what is left to do and what is possibly possible with the remains of the day.

I loved that film, Remains of the Day. Besides being absolutely beautiful, I am so taken with the concept of the "remains" - the last little bits of a busy day that you can finally spend quietly by yourself, reflecting on all the activity, enjoying your own pleasures - whatever they may be - for even a few minutes.

However, I'm not there yet. I've still got at least a couple of hours of things still cooking -- watering the garden, finishing up the batch of soap, getting the last bit ready to take to the shop tomorrow. The remains will be only be a few short minutes when my head hits the pillow tonight. Other evenings drift on much longer. Like the tides, it all ebbs and flows.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Taste of Tacoma

This weekend I'll be at Art a la Carte which is the art show portion of Taste of Tacoma. All the fun is at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma this weekend. Tons of food booths, kids carnival area, all kinds of music and entertainment, the art show, wine and beer gardens, commercial booths, giveaway stuff, face painting, and lots more going on.

Dates: Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 1
Hours: Fri and Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-8pm

I'm hoping that I'll see some of my Tacoma Farmer's Market regulars there - I miss you guys! It's my one big chance to be in Tacoma all summer, so if you're headed over for a quick bite - stop by my booth in the art show area and say hi. Oh, and stock up on your favorites too :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Endless Day

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice - the longest day of the year. In Seattle, that means we had 15 hours 59 minutes and 31 seconds of daylight. The sun rose at 5:11am and set at 9:09pm. Since we're so far north, practically Canada, it's probably quite a bit longer than the rest of the US, but not exactly Alaska, which had only two hours of night. Their sunset was 12:47am and the sun came up again at 2:58am.

Honestly, the longest day yesterday seemed even longer. Partly because I decided to tackle the catching up on my bookwork. It's too embarrassing to mention how many weeks/months I'm behind on inputting the expenses and keeping track of all the books. So I won't say. But it's an awful lot of work once you get past the first month deadline. Just sorting all the little slips into piles took half the afternoon, getting each one into chronological order. Obviously my most hated task ever.

And then the night dragged on too. A couple hours after I fell asleep I was awakened by the sound of a yammering car alarm which sounded awfully close. I jumped out of bed and headed to the front window, hearing a lot of commotion outside and a car zooming off. Of course the alarm was my own car, blaring and flashing in the street out front. Damn.

I jumped into some jammie pants and ran out to see what the fuss was about. And several neighbors were out there too. A lady down the street was talking loudly to her cell phone on the sidewalk. I could tell it was a 911 call and she was talking about my car and the attempted theft. She ran up all flustered and out of breath to hand me the phone so I could finish the call. And the guy on the porch across the street yelled over his description of the guys and the souped up car that revved off around the corner. Crap, a window was broken and glass was everywhere.

So we exchanged information and pleasantries. I dithered about what to do in my dark living room, watching to see if they would creep around the corner and come back after everything had died down. Called the police back to file a written report. It seemed like the only way to actually get a patrol car to drive down our street . Waited on the front steps a while longer. Chatted up the very nice policeman (he was cute! I was in flannel jammies!). And then decided to empty the rest of my junk from the car. A pile of display pieces that were driving around with me, since it doesn't make sense to unload them between each weekend show. But it would be hard too replace all my little custom built bins and shelves and I didn't want them to drive off with the jerks. Then remembered that I should take out my registration and insurance info. If they came back over during the night, I didn't want to have to replace all that too, and worry about identity theft as well.

Then I couldn't sleep for a long time afterwards, my ears perked for every single car or sound out there. I'm tired and pissed today. Grounded until the window repair guy comes, angry that I have to pay $200 to have it fixed, irritated by the whole mess. Yes, it's less hassle than actually having to replace the car and all that. Believe me, I know. I've had two other cars stolen before. I guess you can't live in a city and park on the street without this result at some point.

Happy Friday, stay safe. It will be two seconds shorter than yesterday.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ran-Dumb Suds

Sorry for going missing the last couple of days. I'm feeling guilty about just not showing up to the party. But sometimes this blogging thing is sorta hard - like I just can't find anything to talk about. Eh, probably nobody was missing the 'what my cats did today' drivel, anyway. But I had promised myself to be more consistent and I have no excuse this week other than I was lazy.

So today I am posting, but I'm not promising this it's anything earth-shattering or anything. It's just going to be the most random of suds.

The other thing I'm feeling guilt and shame about lately is grocery bags. For some reason I just can't remember to bring my gorgeous hemp sacks to the grocery store when I go shopping. I was forgetting them at home every time (along with the stupid list) so I put the whole lot of them in the car, hoping that since they were with me and I could see them when I parked, that I would remember to bring them in. But no. The last couple of times they sat on the passenger seat and it wasn't until I got the 'paper or plastic' question that it hit me. Duh. Forehead smack. Why is this so hard? I mean I really want to do the right thing and BYO my own bags.

Anyone following the Britain's Got Talent tv show that just ended? If Paul Potts (the car phone salesman who sang opera) didn't win and get to sing for the queen, there was something wrong with the universe. If you want to shed a tear or two at the sheer beauty of this man's hidden talent, watch his audition video HERE or just see Simon Cowell caught with his mouth hanging open with surprise.

Here's a little tidbit - I'm a serious fancy face cream user. WIth all the big money and high powered technology that has gone into skin science recently, I have to believe that just like modern medicine, all these new ingredients really are useful in slowing down the hands of time that are pummeling my face. It's just that there are so many out there that claim they are the next dream come true. Copper and minerals, vitamins, retinols, acids, peptides, complexes -- it's enough to make your head spin. But if they all work so great, I wondered why each new product had only one, or maybe two, of these new miracle cures. Why wasn't there one cream that just stuffed it all in there? And then I just recently found one. It's called The Youth As We Know It from - the super famous Bliss line, from the Bliss spa in New York. They thanked me for my "blissness" when I ordered, indeed. Anway, it's supposed to contain 10 of the top anti-aging active ingredients - the best of what they've found:

1) MMP inhibitors slow the formation of matrix metalloproteinases that causes the breakdown of collagen in the skin
2) wrinkle reduction peptides help improve elasticity and skin tone
3) visual facial 'fillers' volumize hollow areas
4) cellular respiration boosters help reduce redness and stir cellular oxygenation
5) hyperdermal destressors decrease transepidermal water loss
6) 7-day hydrators maintain the skin's hydrolipidic film and skin barrier
7) barrier repairing ceramides increase and repair barrier function
8) vitamin C stimulates collagen
9) pigment inhibitiors brighten skin tone
10) active vitamin A mimics retin-A, but without the irritation

Sounds good, right? So I've just started using it. It's super luscious, but not too rich, and smells of really super yummy grapefruit and mandarin orange, just a little bit, not too strong. I don't know if it's making me look 10 years younger yet. But it's the nicest cream I've tried in a really long while.

While I'm on a roll, I'll also recommend something else I've recently fallen for. It's pasta. I was down at Pike Place Market the other day, not because I actually like to swim in huge crowds of tourists, pushing and shoving behind slow moving strollers and leisure suits like sardines . . . but because I really needed something that was in a little shop there. And while I was elbowing families from Iowa who've never seen a whole fish in ice, I passed this new (or just new to me) stall selling pasta noodles of all types and varieties. It looks like a vegetable stand, but it's bins of every imaginable kind of pasta ever - like they have a dozen flavors of orzo, from sweet potato to southwest flavor to autumn harvest with pumpkin, chestnut and sage. They've got flat pasta, all kinds of shaped pasta, and even dark chocolate linguine. Amazing stuff - they are Pappardelle's. Just in case you want to hit up Pike Place Market for their 100th anniversary this year (it's been hyped to the max here) stop by their little stand - it's in the main veg/fish building, sort of across from Lowell's restaurant.

Oh, and one more thing. I just had the most magnificent melon the other day. If only I knew the name. I was trying new kinds, and the bin had all these different ones, the name stringing all across the front of it of the dispaly. But of course the label that was on this melon just had a bar code. Maybe it's a Crenshaw? Or a Canary? It looks like a more oval honeydew from the outside. The inside looks like the honeydew ate a cantalope - sort of like a turducken. It was green around the outside by the rind, and orange in the middle where the seeds were. And it tasted like a cross between the two also, but about 10 times sweeter. So succulent and juicy and delicious. I'm headed back to figure it out and try others, but it takes awhile for a gal to eat a whole melon before needing another one.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The clouds keep rolling

Oooh, Mondays after a show weekend are hard. So much unpacking, inventorying, re-organizing and general cleaning. Bank stuff, like counting up all the slips and checks and cash, putting through the credit transactions and deposits. I try to update my customer database with notes about the show too.

And then there is the usual stuff too, like laundry, mail and groceries since I've been gone for a few days. And catching up on all the other business I missed - phone calls, emails and orders and supplies. And there is a pile of new show applications here that need to be sent off. It's 4pm and I feel like I barely scratched the surface.

But Sorticulture was a great success for me and I was so pleased to be there. I met lots of new customers I hadn't seen at other shows before. Plus it was a lot of fun checking out the garden art and buying a bunch of new plants - some cool new shade plants for back under the tree and a few dahlias for my empty sun spots - always more color. I will definitely go back next year if they'll have me.

My only disappointment was the cool, rainy weather all weekend long which lasted until late this afternoon. We're expected to have a little sun the next couple of days, but then back to 60's or even 50s(!) by the solstice, with a lot more rain. I'm so jealous of all you folks in the rest of the country with hot summer weather. My barbeque is getting moldy and rusty out here!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sunset Evenings

Days in the middle of June seem to go on forever. Tonight's sunset, overlooking the Everett waterfront from Legion Park tonight as I was leaving the show -- gorgeous.

The day started with crappy rain, which lasted until mid-afternoon. It dampened the crowds a little, but there were still bunches of early birds, pecking around for the rare species plants and one-of-a-kind garden goodies. And then the sun came out and everything shined.

What a pretty little show. Of course I bought a few plants. They've got wonderous things - like Kangaroo Apples which will grow 6 ft in a single season, bearing both purple flowers and little green crabapple looking thingies. There are dahlia folks, rose folks, fuschia folks. People who specialize in sedums, or hostas, bamboo or shade plants. Fabulous glass. Garden sculptures. Paving stones, fountains, birdhouses and recycled machinery people. It's all there. Plus the big ol' patio of antiques and garden junk treasures. And tomorrow should be even more kicking - come check it out!


I'm so heartbroken. Dora caught one of the little hummingbirds yesterday, right after I wrote about them. Sob, sniff.

She's such a dork, she has to bring in all her outdoor toys. I think she must have some kind of dog marbles in her little gumball machine, because she's such a nut about chewing sticks, pieces of bark, carrying around bamboo pieces in her mouth. And she pops in the window with them to play around in the house with whatever chunk of junk she's found.

At night all this week it's been moths. She's moved from flies to moths. She bats them down, picks them up in her mouth, hops in the window and then tortures the flapping bugs around my bedroom for hours. But yesterday, just as I was leaving the house, I went to lock up and she was smacking something next to the shoes on the bedroom carpet. Oh God, it was a baby hummingbird. I think. I'm not sure if the babies are actually out yet, but it looked smaller than the ones I've been watching.

Maybe they just look tinier when they are stiff on the floor, and not winging around the garden. Anyway, I grabbed it fast and scurried it away. She was so befuddled that her toy had suddenly disappeared. She had her entire head in a shoe pushing it around, one after the other, trying to find her little buzzy toy that was just there. But I was devastated and ran outside to shout my apologies to the heavens . . . or the trees. And there was one lonely hummingbird, high up in a branch, clicking forlornly. Oh God. What if that was his/her mate? Or their baby? I couldn't stand it.

So last night I did a bunch of googling of hummingbird habits. I'm only slightly relieved to know that they are not romantic birds and do not mate for life. Or for more than the act, really. The males have a territory. The females drive by, watch their high flying act, and decide if it's entertaining enough to want to mate with him. If not, they move on. If they do mate, that's about it. The female does every single bit of the nest building, the child rearing and the feeding. They have about 3 babies and most don't live to see a year. The few that do, have a life span of tops 3 or 4 years. From what I could find. But they are supposed to be smart birds. They recognize places, even people, when they come back the following year.

I really, really hope that they have figured out how to avoid the dumb cats. I know they watch me when I'm out. But they always seem so comfortable when I'm standing right in front of the plant they like the most. Maybe that will change and they'll move off. I feel so horrible about planting all these lovely plants that they like and making it attractive for them, and then having them picked off by my stupid pets. What can I do now? I left the cats out all night last night so they'll sleep the entire day today. Hopefully. And not be so wound up and hunting today while I'm gone.

It was a new plant that bloomed huge red tulip-y flowers just outside my bedroom window. They realized that the birds could see them when they stalked from the window sill, because they were eye level. I found Dora twice yesterday afternoon sitting in the very base of the plant, hiding, waiting, eyes glued upwards. She can hear when they are feeding at the other bush, and just waits expectantly in the shadows until they come over to her plant. They don't see her until it's too late and she's already pounced and batted them out of the sky. I know that's how she did it, that bugger.

No matter how much I've stopped them, and scolded them, and dragged them away, they still don't get the difference between the hummers, the bumbles and the moths. Ugh.

So anyway - I set up Sorticulture yesterday. I was pretty early and only a few tents were going up - but there was a lovely display of antiques and garden junk, lots of plant people, rusted metal stuff, birdhouses and structure stuff, super cute. I'm really excited about seeing the rest of it today. Even though it's raining again, double ugh. The plants like it and gardener's won't care about a little drizzle. But I HATE standing outside all day in the dripping rain trying to keep the soap dry. HATE. In case I hadn't mentioned it. Which is pretty stupid since I live in Seattle and have chosen a life of selling stuff outside, where it rains. A lot.

Wish me luck that I won't spend every last dime I make on more yard items and plants I don't have room for! We start at noon today -- goes til 8pm. There will be plenty of sunbreaks later in the day :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Everyone loves a parade!

There are so many parades, festivals and celebrations this weekend, that if I wasn't going to be hanging out at my lovely garden show, I don't know how I would choose what to do. Summer solstice parades and art cars and the Fremont Fair madness, the Edmonds Art Festival, Juneteenth . . . the list goes on and on. And then there's Dad's Day on Sunday. We're having a lovely outdoor brunch with a view. Hope the weather will be lovely, at least for a few hours in the morning.

But today is only Thursday. And I'm off to set up my booth at Sorticulture. I've put the finishing touches on a last couple items before coffee this morning. The loading of the car beckons.

And I've got to keep an eye on the hummingbirds. The cats are desperate to catch one, and there are several birds which hang out and feed here all day long. They seem to know what's up - keeping a watchful eye on the little furry numbers who think they are invisible behind a leaf that barely covers their head. And I've caught the birds actually teasing the cats by zooming up and down over their heads while they are crouched in stealth mode, watching their little ears and eyes jump back and forth. It should be endless entertainment for us all.

What I'm working on lately: Trying out some new skin care creams. Infusing big jars of vodka with melons or pineapple and mint. Skipping a day between shampoos like my stylist implored me - at least for a week. Eating melon, every new kind, and trying new melon recipes. Sketching out ideas to revamp the website. Dreaming up fall product ideas, ugh, yes, already. Ordering Fit Flops - they are all the rage in London and sold out here in like the first week. still has them at the moment, but they are backordered until mid-July, hurry.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Giving it all away

Today's topic: charitable donations. Giving moolah.

I think it's important to share some of what you've got that others might need, or support causes that you think matter, or to support friends. I do it as much as I can - personally and as a business. You know, to make a difference in the world and put a few cents where my mouth is and all that.

When I was younger it was just sort of haphazard - whoever called or sent me something on the right day when I had a few extra sheckles in the wallet. But some time ago I decided to be a little more organized about it. I made a list of areas that I wanted to participate in: the environment, relief and development, human services, the arts, local groups. Out of those categories, I researched a few organizations that I thought were the most efficient - meaning the most amount of cash went to the actual cause. And whose vision I shared, and results were tangible, etc. So became the short list. And I try to donate at least 10% of my profits to them, splitting it out evenly across the groups and over a year's worth of time.

Of course, there is always the stray phone call, the friend who's doing a run/walk, the occasional political or education or health care lobby group or earnest face at the door. I'm a pushover. But I do have some discipline - I quit the candy bars and magazine things - well, unless it's a neighbor kid I know.

And that doesn't count the business donations. You have no idea how many times I get asked to donate a basket of soap and bath goods to an auction. All kinds - schools, women's groups, neighborhood or community organizations, you name it. I usually really like to do it and help out, and reaching a new audience is never bad. And the few times that I'm overwhelmed by requests, I just have to say no, and try to do it some other time.

Side bar - did you know that artists can not claim their donations as deductions on their taxes? They can deduct supplies only - not the retail value. That totally sucks - because they get asked more than any other group (except maybe free wine for parties) to donate something. Doesn't matter what it is - painting, sculpture, photography - to decorate a public space or private space, to hang something on the wall, to auction it off. Maybe travel vacations get asked more - for free trips to Hawaii, I don't know. But if so, they can take off the retail value. I'm not totally clear on how the whole tax law works for everyone else, but I'm not quite in the artist category - I'm more of a product/manufacturing category. So I get to take off wholesale price - again not retail value. So it's really not great for me. But I like to help out and what's the diff? To be honest, I don't know that I've ever gotten a single order for all that exposure - but then again, I don't know that I haven't. I still have to believe in good karma.

Well, this is all long-winded and probably TMI and boring for y'all. But where I'm going is a new organization that I've just found out about that I want to throw money at and wanted to share too. It's You donate whatever small dollar amount you want to specific entrepreneurs in developing countries that just need a few bucks to make their own little life-sustaining business work.

I love it because it's personal, they are just like me - little home based small business folks trying to survive and support a family. And the money they need to make it happen is small - usually $1,000 bucks or so. It's a not-for-profit micro loan, and the loans are almost always repaid in full. They can be rolled over from one successful venture into another hopeful little business that just needs a sewing machine, or a few cows, or car repairs to his taxi. Some of them are little loans for house repairs - it's so heartbreaking to see the little cinder block shacks they need to put a roof on.

My point is that you can see exactly to who, and for what, your few dollars are going to support. And it's all worked out so that it's a loan, not just a give away. You get updates as they complete their endeavor - and then the money gets repaid to you. Cool.


This weekend I'm participating in the Sorticulture festival - and it's my first time ever at this garden-themed show. I've heard raves about it for years, but wasn't able to get in due to competition in the soap category. But this year there was a space and I'm so thrilled to be there.

Since I can't realistically describe the thing to you - I'm going to post their press release blurb verbatim. It's got everything and more:

It takes more than foliage and flowers to make a tremendous garden. Ornaments and structure play an important part in creating a beautiful outdoor living space. Come and discover unique accessories for the garden at the largest garden art show in the Northwest, Sorticulture - June 15 & 16 at Legion memorial Park in Everett.

What is the Sorticulture Garden Festival? Snohomish County's largest garden party! Soroticulture is a fresh mix of horticulture, art and food. The Festival's live musical performances, popular wine garden, cooking and gardening demonstrations and children's activities drew nearly 20,000 visitor's last year. Sorticulture is an ever-growing, authentic celebration of garden sights, sounds and tastes!

This year's Festival showcases artists who present a variety of hand-crafted, locally-made garden ornaments. Learn about winemaking and growing grapes and get tips from local chefs about cooking fresh from the garden. Sip some wine and take in the smooth jazz of Tim Koss and the Not for Nuthin' Trio on Friday evening. Don't miss Cisco Morris on Saturday or the comedy juggling act of Brothers of a Different Mother!

The Sorticulture Garden Festival is FREE. Friday, June 15 noon - 8pm, and Saturday, June 16 10am - 6pm at Legion Memorial Park, Alverson & West Marine View Drive in Everett.

So that's the deal. It sounds wonderful - can't wait to see what's there. I'm looking for a bird bath thingie myself. Or something else cool to plop in my new garden areas. There will be specialty nurseries too. And I'm the biggest sucker for plants. I'm just hoping I make more money than I spend at this one :)

Lounging around

We spent the weekend lounging around, catching up on sleep, long hours in the garden just puttering around, having coffee and reading the paper in our pajamas - well, the cats don't have pajamas - but they are the cat's pajamas. These little girlies are the most fun ever. Always together, always cute and so easy peasy. They never beg, whine, or demand anything. They're always up for a little smooching and cuddling. And except for the occasional scary moment when they are climbing new heights in the trees, they're perfect.

What a luxury to have a weekend with very little on the agenda - dinner with friends, a couple of short errands, finishing a book. This week is another show, a bunch of new orders, business as usual. But it sure was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Have you ever seen begonias that look like this? Big, fluffy blossoms that almost look like peonies, but are the color of ripe, peach/coral impatiens, and droop over the sides of the pot like fuschias?

I headed out to Collage early this morning to rearrange my display a little bit, fluff up the inventory, and take it up a notch. It was already gray and drizzling. Which doesn't explain why I can't seem to hold the camera steady. I really wanted to take pictures of all of their dazzling planted pots and gardens over at Carillon Point in Kirkland. I'm am absolutely stunned by their beauty every time I go. Several really showpiece types of plants they use that I've never seen before. I don't even know what some of them are. But the endless combinations of pinky oranges and lemony greens, with all kinds of accents are masterpieces. I'm especially enamored by these begonias. I think that's what they are, although the leaves are long and pointy instead of the usual rounder ones.

And if anyone out there reading knows what type of plant this is? please leave a comment or email me. It's got a groovy variegated green and white leaf, trails little tendrils of branches, and the coolest little bright red Chinese lantern flowers that hang underneath. It would save me a bunch of research, or running around with my blurry little pictures to nurseries. Thanks.

Anyway, if you're in the neighborhood -- stop by for the lovely flower pots and garden areas, but drop in to the shop too and see what's new.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Flowers. I heart them.

The hanging basket at my front door. Love. It's starting to fill in so nicely - the four different kinds of lobelia all tangly and the huge, pink fuschsia blossoms languishing seductively off the sides. Can't wait for another month when it's so beautifully overgrown that it takes one's breath away.

By that point I will have a new camera and might actually be able to take a picture that does it justice. One can dream. About the photo talent that is. Not the camera. The camera is a for sure thing. Because my current model is quite old now, the batteries die about every 10th photo, and I think the boat guy stepped on it and broke it when we were in Mexico. It was in perfect order when we started out (well, perfect is relative - it's had it's share of accidents), and then mid-day after a few stops, suddenly it had broken the little hatch-piece thingie that holds the battery compartment closed. I am making due with tape and a lot of awkward grasping. I think I've found my new little sporty number. I just need to get over to the store and give it a little test drive and plunk down the money while it's still on sale.

Sunny Fridays are so happy.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Well, my display is all set up at Collage. It was pretty busy there yesterday, lots of stuff happening at once, so I think I'm satisfactorily initiated. I'm heading over in the next couple of days to fill in some more. It's hard to picture it all in your head while sitting on the floor of the office. And after I got everything unpacked and shifted around, I realized that I could shove a whole lot more on those shelves - really jazz it up. As of this moment I'm planning on running over tomorrow with more, but I need prep and pricing time and today is packed.

Ginormous eyeroll -- Paris is already out of jail. She's been in there pitching a fit since she arrived about how it's too bright in her cell, she can't sleep, can't eat and crying her poor little eyes out. If only it was really that easy to get a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Well, a few tears and a bazillion dollars. If anyone needed a little more coaxing that life really isn't fair, there you have it.

I'm mired down in supplier hell too this morning. My huge-o order of pretty purple dragonfly sachet bags arrived stinking like musty, moldy, basement rags. Lovely little extra scent to the lavender sachets. I've aired them out, but it's not making a bit of difference. So they need to go back. The whole box of them. And I really needed them. Now.

I'm running circles to see if they can exchange them at this point, that the new bunch will not reek just as badly. Or I could pay twice as much and get them from another supplier. But that would take longer, cost more, and there's no guarantee that the other ones are any different. The entire container load or truck load or cargo load or whatever it is, could very likely all be made of the same crap. Bleh.

And the new ton of Dead Sea Salt which I was supposed to pick up tomorrow (yes, I waited til I was almost out of them) is now not arriving. It's on back order. And I really needed it. Now. Hopefully the boatload from the Dead Sea is arriving some time next week. Fingers crossed. Double bleh.

Plus I'm dangerously low on Healing Salve because the herb supplier was out of a couple of the main herbs I infuse the oils with. I need to make a special run to my back-up supplier, always short on time and never headed that direction. But it's got to start steeping this weekend so I'll have plenty of it ready for the Sorticulture show next weekend. Triple bleh.

Gotta run. Busy bee.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Back to work

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually glad its' cooler, grey and raining today. So many hot, sunny, summer days in a row and I've almost forgotten how to work. And I need to focus and get a lot done today, so the weather is absolutely perfect. No temptations to head outside and rustle among the plants or siesta in the lounge chair. I've got stuff to do. And a lot of it.

Tomorrow I go whole hog at Collage, the little artist co-op in Kirkland. Sarah and I arrive before opening to transform the soap display. She's taking her products out, and I get all the shelves and space, instead of just half of it. So I need to figure out what to bring, price it all up, round up the display items I had picked out but have been languishing here for the last couple of months. I want it to look good, have a little smattering of everything - a little something for everyone. And ultimatley I need to make some money there. That's the plan.

And there's a big wholesale order, soap to be made, bars to be packaged, labels to be applied, laundry, house cleaning, chores, chores, chores. Quite a big list. So today I'll be inside, and in the office, and working. Poo.

Better get cracking, no more slacking.

Monday, June 04, 2007

What's in that thing?

Oops, sorry I didn't get the soap company thing posted Friday. I played hookey and worked out in the garden all weekend long on a new landscape project. It looks so darn good - a new section of rock wall, a new set of steps and re-graded a section in the front that had become a complete mess. Now the whole thing ties together, the structure part is totally finished, and we've begun to plant stuff. I just stand there and stare at it, over and over all day. I can't believe how much work it was, and how much was accomplished, after what was truly years of planning it and stalling.

So, the story is this: a woman stopped in my booth at Folklife, and asked a million questions about all the other little products I had out on the ends of the table. She was amazed that I actually made all that stuff. And as she made her way around to the middle where the soaps were, she asked increduously if I made the soap too. Of course I do. Painstakingly. By hand.

She declared to me that of course soap is probably made differently now, and that she used to work in a commercial soap factory. I explained that soap has been made the same way, with generally the same ingredients for thousands of years. There is no other way to do it. I did the quick 101 on the mixing of the fats with the water and lye solution, which I'm pretty sure she knew already, adding that I use a base of really high quality vegetable oils and special nutrient oils as the fat base.

Her response was that they used whatever leftover waste oils they could find -- bacon grease, horse fat, junk leftover in the cold cream making industry. She said they made soap for all kinds of businesses - they were the sort of invisible manufacturing plant that commercial brands hired to produce their soap bars. Even high-end, expensive ones, she said.

I asked her the name of the company, and she told me "Hewitt." So I googled. Here's the rather dramatic recounting and brief history of the factory, in Dayton, Ohio that I found. In a nutshell, it was a family business that was started in 1897, and became the second largest specialty soapmaking plant, making just about every kind of soap, but specializing in those little hotel bars.

In the 30's it became a subsidiary of Proctor & Gamble. In the 80's it was sold to American Safety Razor, which made all kinds of other items too. And then in a violet corporate take-over, it became part of Bradford Soap International in Nov 2004. Bradford basically took it over, gutted the business and dismantled the whole thing, so Hewitt is gone.

Bradford Soap Works has an interesting section on their site which gives a super thorough description of the Art and Science of Soapmaking which explains in great detail how commercial soap is made. And the photos of their products include everything from hotel soaps, to general store brand soap, to specialty bars of glycerin and natural stuff that look just like the spa type stuff you pay top dollar for. As they state: Translucent, transparent, organic, synthetic, moisturizing, beaded, striated, marbled and more — it’s all available in shapes, colors and fragrances to meet customers’ exact specifications and market needs." And their photo (above) certainly looks like those highly advertised Dove or Olay lotion-filled bars. They make everything, and you wouldn't know who the heck they are, they are not listed on the label as manufacturers very often.

The FDA does not require ingredients or strict labelling for soap. For any and every other bath or cosmetic product, the restrictions and ingredients are pretty extensive. But for soap you can pretty much get away with anything. I'm not sure why the distinction, but it's been that way forever. So maybe they still use horse fat leftover from pet food manufacturing. Or old Crisco from popcorn manufacturing, or who knows what old food oils, animal fats, whatever goes into it. Sure, they probably make the nicer, frilly stuff too. But how do you know really. It's gross and not something I would ever want to use again, after hearing what goes on behind the closed doors. Certainly, a fancy little wrapper and nice perfume covers up a lot. But your skin absorbs 99% of what goes on it, so I'm not that into yesterday's breakfast grease.

I spent extra time in the shower with my shea butter soap after hearing all that. And am so darn happy that I have an endless supply of the good stuff in my house. I know every single thing that goes into them. And the basic ingredients are so healthy they are edible. Well, bacon grease is edible too, if you're going to get technical. Ewww.