Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The package said parsley

When we re-landscaped the front yard earlier this year, I had an area along the top that I wanted to fill with herbs. Lavender along the sidewalk, big pots of mint - Mediterranean Mint, Peppermint and Chocolate Mint, two kinds of basil, and then a 6-pack of Italian parsley. I love to put the big flat leaf parsley in all kinds of things, so I wanted several plants, and spaced them along the top.

It took a while to really get rooted well and fluff out. About a month ago, I decided that it was ready for a big snipping for potato salad. Weird parsley - the leaves were so large. Turns out, it's really celery. I've never grown celery before. Mostly because I don't even like it. I use occasionally in things, like stews, cajun stuff, chicken salads. But it's pretty tasteless, a useless watery crunchy bit. So now that I'm a celery farmer, I don't know what to do with it.

This stuff isn't like your regular grocery store stuff either. It's much smaller stalks, harder, tougher and stringier. I've been chopping a few outer stalks and trying to use them in salads or something. I've even thrown some of the younger leaves in things too, trying to pretend it's still parsley. Maybe in another month it will be bigger and juicier. Or maybe I've just got a row of garnish to deal with.

I love my new camera . It's a little digital Nikon Coolpix S50 in the groovy exclusive chocolate brown color. So sleek and crisp. I'm hoping to raise the bar on my picture taking skills with it (see? this celery shot ain't no medal winner). I'm a total novice with composition, lighting, focus etc. So it's going to be a learning curve for sure - but this little baby will do a much better job than my old dinosaur held together with packing tape :) Tally ho. I'm off to photograph the carpet, a million pictures of the cats, every plant in the yard, breakfast, my knees . . .

Fun with widgets

Wheeeeee! I've found a couple of new toys to play with. I've added new hot buttons to subscribe or bookmark the blog - see right. I saw them on other people's blogs and wanted them - sort of like coveting your friend's new cute shoes. I had to have a pair of my own. And it only took me an hour to figure out all the easy-as-pie, one-click-away, how to's, heh. I am so dang happy that Blogger has all these super easy for dummies new layouts and widget tools. Because all the html coding was kicking my butt.

I'll do a real post later with a cool pic - I got my brand spanking new camera last night. I just need to figure out that technology next. So much to play with today. Even though I'm in way over my head with trying to get ready for Anacortes this coming weekend. That's right, my biggest show of the summer is coming up this weekend, and I have about 10 bars of soap packaged as of this moment. I'll need to devote myself every waking minute to having enough little dressed up bars for the crowds in Anacortes. Plus more lip balm, labels on the sprays, pretty little gifts sets, gack. I'm already getting a stomach ache thinking about it. Ok, off to figure out how the battery fits in and try to capture some of the lovely.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Change Your Shoes

Bellevue was good to me, and the weekend was quite nice after all. Sunday morning's drizzle rain hampered things a bit, but not for long.

I was thinking that you all might be thinking, my, this show thing sound so glamorous, exciting and fun. Maybe at first it is, but after a while - like 10 years or more - it's not as great as it sounds. It's kind of long, kind of hard, and like anything else you do over and over and over and over, gets to be a routine. It HAS to be. Because if you don't get your routine down, you are a flailing stresscase mess.

So along those lines, I decided to make a short list of absolute essentials for surviving a show weekend. The first one is:

1. Change your shoes. You might think you have the bestest, most comfortable pair of shoes on the planet. But believe me, after the first 12 to 15 hours of standing in them on the pavement, they are not your friends any more. And if you decide to wear them again on day 2, they will begin to bite back before you even get out of the car. It's essential to wear a completely different pair of shoes each day. Just to move the stresspoints around and have a little less pain. Like one day your heels are rubbing raw. The next day it's pinching your toe. Like that.

2. Bring handiwipes. Money is dirty. And your visitors are frequently busy slurping and eating while wandering through the booths. Setting dripping coffee cups down. Or children covered in ice cream are busily feeling up your goods. Shave ice. Barbeque fingers. Saucy things on sticks. All those things come to visit your booth. Plus the constant onslaught of dust and road dirt. Your only bathroom option is a Honey Bucket which has been traversed by eleventy billion other rear ends. You will want to wipe up with some sort of cleaning and sanitizing type wipey thing during the course of your stay there. A must.

3. Water. Snacks and beverages are really nice too. Especially if you are working alone. A dust bunny flies in while you're extolling the virtues of your fabulous wares. And lodges in your throat. If you haven't brought along water, you will expire in front of the guests. And dehydration is lurking all the time. At the end of a long day, if you've forsaken the water, you will feel like a truck has run over you and the next day or two will be much more painful. Drink water regularly, even though it will force you to run off and use the facilities. Your health is more important than the possible sale you might have lost during that two minutes of time.

4. Lip gloss. Well, maybe this is just me. I never go anywhere without it. I cannot stand dry lips and have to re-apply every hour. But it makes you look more professional and happy too. So there. I hear if you put a little clear stuff on your teeth that it enables a constant, pearly white smile. Which is also good for business. So if you skip the lip gloss - at least keep the smile.

5. Sweater, jacket, socks. Warm stuff. Unless you are one of those guys who wears shorts even in winter, then you're highly likely to feel cold at some point over the day. At least if you're in this area - Mississippi show goers can move on. But here, it's chilly in the early mornings, or breezy and cool in the evenings, and it's so much harder to be friendly and happy if you've got the chills, goose flesh, and are shaking. It may feel warm in the 10 seconds it takes to get yourself into the car at home. But once you've driven an hour, and reached some small island town, or convergence zone location, it's drizzly and freezing, and it's still 8am. You'll want to marry that jacket. It might be 78 in the afternoon, but it's darn tootin' cold in the morning. Or it starts out nice and then by evening when you've got another couple of hours to go, the wind kicked up and it's really chilly. Put on the sweater and socks. The cold just makes you tired and cranky, so best be prepared.

6. Finally, on day 3 a greasy breakfast is essential. Your adrenaline tank is on empty. Everything is tired and hurts. You just want to get through the day and get it over with. Eat something with grease and protein first thing. An egg mcmuffin is often enough, as long as there is protein and grease and it's warm. A solo cup of coffee or a little sugary donut or pastry on this final day will just not cut it.

That's my top 6. I'm sure I've missed something essential, like push pins and duct tape. But you can figure those out on your own, if you ever decide to try this kind of madness.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


It's Saturday morning and I feel hung over. I'm not. Or kind of like swimming underwater with boots on. Maybe I didn't drink enough water yesterday, or get enough sleep last night. I'm hoping a little coffee and a hot shower will perk me up. Coffee is in hand, but it's weird to be blogging first thing - and it's only because it was the one thing I could do while sitting down, eh.

So the upshot was that Thursday was productive and successful, accomplishing everything I had on my list before set-up, which went smoothly too. Friday started out optimistic and sunny, really busy and buzzing. But sales slowed a lot during the day and it ended up down a little from the usual numbers. Doesn't that sound like a broken record?

I'm neighbors with my friend, Andrew, the glass guy, who was having a phenomenal day again. He broke records there last year, right next to me, and so did I. So we were hoping the magic would continue. Apparently, lightening struck twice only at his place. And he seemed to be the exception, because everyone else around us was twiddling their thumbs a bit too. But it's early in the weekend. Although Friday is often the busiest day, due to all the office workers on their lunch breaks, it could certainly be much more successful the next two days. Hope floats.

The happiest part of my day yesterday was lunch! I love that California Pizza Kitchen. I probably only eat there during this show - three straight days of it - but never go over there otherwise. Odd, because I always find something new to love. I've had previous love affairs with the BLT pizza and some salads, but they have a new Mango Tandoori Chicken pizza that was super good.

I've got a number of things to work on before I even head over to the show this morning. The Coconut Lemongrass bath salts was a home run, and I need to get more of that bottled up before I head over. Plus load up a bunch more soap and sachets, grab a gift set or two . . . . where's that list. Ahh, the fog is lifting. I think I'm going to be ready for another big day of sales. I'm off to the races!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Is it warm in here?

Or is my skirt on fire?

Sheesh, sometimes I think it takes lighting a bonfire under my butt to really get me to focus on the deadlines. I have to set up the Bellevue show this evening, and one would assume that I would be pretty much ready to go by now. Maybe just pulling together the last little pieces. Yet, I have almost no soap ready this morning.

Woke up crabby and tired. I've got a huge amount of work to accomplish today. And there's not a lot of time. So it's lockdown.

A rather important quality that a self-employed person should have is work discipline. The ability to set their own deadlines and make them happen. Mine has been pretty lax lately - although I readily admit that ever since high school I've always waited until the last minute. Somehow I need that gigantic cloud of doom or die to truly focus. It's probably a complete lie that I tell myself I work better under pressure. It's certainly not more comfortable. And I'm not getting any more work done this way either.

So why am I sitting here typing? Once I get into the rhythm of it, it should go pretty quickly today. And some of my best ideas happen while I'm in that groove. Looking forward to a very productive day. Hand me that fire extinguisher over there, will you?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Outdoor Movie Night

I spent the morning working my shift at Collage, the little artist co-op/gift shop over in Carillon Point which I've just recently joined. It's such a crystal clear, sparkling day that the view from my "office" - or rather the view I get from my spot behind the register - was truly something special. After a week of rain and grey skies, it's so nice to have a clear, summer day again. And everyone was out watching the boats in the marina, strolling the waterfront, lunching under the cool umbrellas in the plaza and Blu Water Bistro, just wandering around on their breaks, gazing at the beauty of the lake and mountains. The little white boats bobbing along in the dazzling blue waters of Lake Washington, the perfect breeze blowing through the trees - spectacular. It reminds me why I still live here.

And I was reminded again several times in the last couple of days. Several tourists came through the shop this morning from parts far away - one was Oklahoma and one was Palm Desert. Their stories of weather made me all the happier that I am enjoying such a mild, temperate, gorgeous place. No super hot stretches where you can't breathe air when you cross the doorway from air-conditioning to the outside climate. No monsoon rains which run rivers of mud that was previously dust storms. One woman claimed that our weather here over the weekend was like a day in January, and she was freezing in fleece today (it's 75 degrees). Hoo boy.

And my customer from Alaska who phoned, and was spending last month at a new house in New Mexico had similar stories. Too hot, too cold. I know I complain about the rain and grey sometimes but I wouldn't trade for one minute to live in a climate of extremes. It's the sacrifice we pay to have such perfect summers, such lush springtimes, such mild winter months. Yes, we get bad weather. Yes, it's moldy at times. But the loveliness and temperate-ness of it all far outweighs all the other trouble elsewhere.

I am thanking my lucky stars that I am not experiencing the massive rains and flooding in England (or Texas), the deadly heat in the rest of Europe (and everywhere else), the tornadoes, storms and whatnot. It's nothing but easy in this land of plenty. For now.

Oh, the whole point of my post today was supposed to be Carillon Point's Outdoor Movie Nights. Yikes, can I focus for just 10 minutes ya think? Over in Kirkland at the Carillon Point complex where Collage is located, they are doing outdoor movies on Saturday nights. The above link gets you the schedule and more info. Collage is having a little open house (free glass of wine! meet some artists!) on Saturday, August 11. Just in case you want to catch Casino Royale with the tykes and stop in.

That was it. Back to stressing about how I'm going to get it all done in time for Bellevue set-up tomorrow evening. I'll be tying up little bars of soap for the next 24 hours straight. Not. That's not how I roll. I DO need to work like crazy tomorrow, and a bit more this evening. But my beauty sleep is more important. Whatever I have is ok, whatever I'm missing I can squeeze in as the show goes on, and whatever didn't make it - probably I'm the only one who'll know. Somehow it all works itself out. And I'll need a glass of wine in the garden with the kittens playing chase around the posies this evening.

ETA: I am really losing my marbles. Totally forgot the freakin' labels for this deal. Apologies for posting twice. I WILL get the hang of it, I swear, any day now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bellevue Arts Festival

So yeah, I've gotta do another post about another show this weekend. This coming weekend is the Bellevue Arts Fair extravaganza.

It's actually three different shows, all going on simultaneously in downtown Bellevue. The Bellevue Arts Museum show, which has changed it's name to something so long and redundant that I can't even remember it, is the fancy pants one in the garage of the Bellevue Square Mall. It's completely fine art and is the biggest draw for national artists to come out here. Another one, which used to be called Rest of the Best but also changed their name to somethigng boring and unremarkable, is located in the Cost Plus parking lot across the street from Bell Square. Also more traditional art categories and lots of lovely folks there.

And then there is the Sixth Street Fair. Now, this is not the poor cousin of art shows - it's just an extension of folks who show locally, and they in fact allow other categories like traditional crafts, which are not allowed in the other two shows. Soapmaking is obviously not high end art. So the only show that me and others like me can even participate in, is Sixth Street. And believe me, there are some very lovely artists in our show too. All kinds of things, from furniture to glass, pottery, jewelry, woodworking - but also soap, candles, fabric arts etc., gift items that don't require a year's worth of salary to invest in. There are 120 artists, food booths and music stages over our way. Anyhoo, if you've got time, it's nice to visit the whole entire circus and see everything. The weather is supposed to be perfect - sunny and 70's - no better type of day to wander around and be wowed by creativity and beauty.

Here are the details:

6th Street Fair (link for more info)

Dates: July 27, 28, 29
Hours: Fri-Sat 10 am-8 pm, Sun 10 am-6 pm

Soapworks Studio Booth Location: I'm located in booth #C-3, on 106th near the corner of 6th, right in front of the California Pizza Kitchen, facing east towards the Bellevue Galleria complex - same spot as last year.

Free or cheap parking, or shuttle info: HERE

Monday, July 23, 2007

Flogging the Blog

Hee! I was so hell-bent on those darn category labels for all my posts yesterday. It felt like I spent hours working out the major themes, backtracking through the last few months of posts and re-labelling them. And then it turns out that almost every single one of them has the same darn name - either A Day in the Life, or Shows and Festivals. Doh!

I guess it was a good exercise in order to see what the Sam Hill I'm jabbering away about on a daily basis. But it IS show season, and part of the business here is to inform the peeps of where I am and what is going on. And the daily life stuff? I guess that was the point of the whole blog anyway. To give anyone with a little time on their hands a glimpse into what it's like to live my life and try to make a living off the suds.

Now that I've got a little structure and purpose to the whole mess, the categories will expand and become more user friendly. Baby steps. It's coming along. I spent way more time messing with it than I should have yesterday. But yanno, once you get started, it gets a little obsessive.

And the Feed Burner icon is now available and ready for subscribing. If you already know what that is, skip this part. For those who are brand new, here's the down low in what I hope is the most basic language. A feed lets you "subscribe" to a number of blogs that you are interested in, compiling them in a list at their site (or your own email inbox), so that you have the one handy list instead of trying to rummage around your bookmarks on a regular basis and visit each one individually. The biggest benefit is for those blogs that are a little erratic or not daily, so that it lets you know when new content or a new blog entry has been posted. You check your list when you can and all the new stuff is waiting in one spot for you.

There are thousands of web feed programs, and you can use whichever one you are familiar with if you're already in that game. If this is new, but sounds pretty cool, then you can use the new "Feedburner" option. It's now part of the Google family, really user and browser friendly, interfaces seamlessly with my blogger account and just a click away for the easiest blog reading around. Questions - just give it a click and see in an instant what it looks like, the sign up takes seconds, and it's free, free, free.

I think I'm done fussing with the big stuff, but there will always be a little more tweaking. I like to change up the colors from time to time. Probably a new banner photo when I get time to play. More questions or comments? Just leave a note here or email me.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Blog News Update

Just a quick note to let you know that I am updating the blog today. New look, new colors and stuff. I'm just playing around and it is going through several different incarnations and I figure out what I like and don't like. I just wanted to freshen things up and get a few of the new technologies in order.

And on that note, I need to apologize to anyone who subscribes or feeds to this blog. I'm not even sure if you can at this point. That's my next order of business. Adding the feed so you can subscribe. But that's a step ahead. What I've been doing today is changing the labels on posts. I've made up a short list of categories instead. The categories are more like real life posts (called "A Day in the Life") and business posts, show posts, products posts, cooking and gardening. Just so that it's easier to navigate or find older stuff. In order to make it all organized (and I'm totally compulsive about organizing - freak about having things ordered,labelled, tagged, alphabetical, color-coded) hm . . .

Well, in order to make it all perfect I had to go back and re-publish all my recent posts with the new category labels. I had been doing this really haphazardly and without any clue what I was doing, just typing in whatever popped in my head. But instead of using these labels for search engines to find really specific topics that I'm discussing, I decided that it would be more useful to make these categories for the folks who are checking in frequently or subscribing. I prefer to accommodate my loyal readers than attempt to snag (or is that snog? heh) far flug web surfers who are googling, technorating or whatevering the term "petunia" or some such.

So if in fact you have subscribed and now have roughly six months worth of posts in your inbox, I am tremendously sorry. Either later today or sometime this week when I can finish up this task, I will add a feed option, with the handy little button in the side bar, so that you can easily subscribe. This may be way too techno for some, and why did it take so long for others. I'll admit, it's a tad beyond what I do myself, so I'm going through a bit of a learning curve myself. But I'll explain it all when it arrives. I'm doing this step by step and wanted the format and organization all in place first.


A rainy Sunday. Perfect day to catch up on some much needed sleep.

….sleep – the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast . . .

Act II, scene ii, Macbeth by William Shakespeare

. . . Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy . . .

The Dream, Lord Byron

Friday, July 20, 2007

Save the Dates

I've updated the CALENDAR this morning to add in more shows for the fall and winter.

I'll be doing the Farm Girls Holiday show in September, a new show with a focus on recycled and re-purposed art as well as holiday gift crafts. It's out at Swan Tail Farms in Snohomish, which looks gorgeous, and I'll be located in the old Cider Barn. Yippee Ki Yay!

I've also been accepted back to Salmon Days on the first weekend of October. And I've filled in the full schedule of Allied Arts Holiday Festival dates which run from Nov 23rd through Dec 23rd this year. The location is still being worked out, but there is a new director there this year who is energized and excited to get this wonderful organization back on track.

And finally, I've added the Hilltop Holiday in Bellevue, at the Northwest Arts Center, Nov 28 - Dec 1.

An update on the Lord Hills Farm and Vasa Park shows - there is still no buyer to take over those shows, so sadly it looks like those will not continue in any way this year. That's a big chunk of shows, running once a month in September through December. Sigh.

And with the Best of the Northwest show falling on a very popular weekend, I will be missing out on my beloved PLU show this time around. I hate to disappoint my Tacoma and south end folks, but I can't be in two places at once personally manning my booth. So I'm giving the Best NW show a shot this time and we'll see how it all works out for next year.

I'm waiting to hear on a few more shows to fill in, and I'll post any news here and update the calendar as soon as I know more.

Last note - if you haven't already pre-ordered the new Harry Potter book, you can buy it here, at BetterWorld.com for a really nice price, plus they put profits towards building libraries in Asia. So everyone will be buried in a book this weekend?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Digging in

Today I am trying to catch up and get a little bit organized. The whole last week has been so discombobulated without my printer, and then without an internet connection. I had a little bit of a brain storming session too while I was hanging out at the West Seattle show, so there is a little pile of notes and lists of things I wanted to look up or research or work on for the fall and winter seasonals. Now that I'm back to actually working on real stuff, it's more than a little overwhelming.

I tried to spend a few minutes catching up on my favorite blogs and sites, but I feel so behind. Truly, I don't know how all those folks find the time to write such long and interesting posts every day. I've been so harried and rushed, that it's a wonder I can spit out anything here at all. I know the blog is stale and boring and I need to freshen it up and give it a little time. But it's so far away from the pressing items that are hitting me from all directions lately.

It's been a weird kind of week, with moments of clarity, lucidity and creativity - where I think I've come up with some great ideas for products and packaging and scents in the next couple of seasons. And then moments of utter frustration, complete stagnation and self-doubt. The process is never a straight path, but a lot of stops and starts, meandering, dead ends and then zipping forward.

Usually I love deadlines and work best under pressure. But this time it just feels like stress. There is so much I want to do and play around with, but there never seems like enough time to even do the laundry. Is it only me? Or is that happening to anybody else? So I'm plugging away, digging in the shovel and trying to make the best of the week ahead before the next month of constant shows.

Supply orders, errands, bills, making soap and wading through the desk piles. Super fun life of an entrepreneur on a pretty, sunny, Thursday.

A few of my favorite things today: baker's twine, french ribbon, tall skinny glass jars that are too cheap to pass up, darling little metal canisters, dark chocolate, cat fluff, shades of blue, Farm Girls Holiday, vintage wallpaper, letterpress cards, a rhinestone crown pin, an antique picnic hamper, tomatoes that are just starting to ripen, sunflowers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Surf's UP!

Wheee! I'm back and surfing the internets! The technology is up and running once again. Huge sigh of relief.

So of course it was equipment malfunction and I needed to buy more stuff. The wireless doojobby was working intermittently, which means that every time somebody else even walked in the room, it would work. When anyone tried to look at it, it was fine. When I took it to the repair shop, it was fine. When I got it home, it worked for a couple of glorious hours and then quit for the day. When I was home alone trying to work, it was down. So basically, nobody could figure out what was wrong with the whole picture, because the wireless piece of crap was playing games with me. It would be all polite, obedient, and well dressed for anybody else. But when it was just me here? It would stick out its tongue and refuse to function. No sweet talking, treats, or cajoling helped. No amount of threats, punishment or kicking it helped either.

Well, it's out the door now, given the pink slip. And the new Mr Wireless doojobby is hard at work bringing me the glorious world wide web right to my sticky little keyboard and smudgy screen. It's all good again.

I've had an inordinate amount of techno-trouble this year. I have no idea why. But the thought has crossed my mind (a lot) that maybe I should just pack it all in and move to some remote acreage where life is simpler and easier to manage. No computers, no hardware, no software, no wireless anything. No blackberries except for the kind that tear your pants and stain your fingers. People talk to each other face to face. I know, weird huh? Of course I couldn't stand that kind of life either. So I've persevered with the electronica, and for this evening at least, there is full function with all my many pieces. Life is grand.

And it's raining too. We've had such a long, hot, dry spell that the plants were parched. It was so nice to see them perk up, get all green and happy today during the entire day of drizzle and rain. And we've got more on the way. That super fresh, moist and lush feeling, everything all rinsed clean, the scent of wet dirt drifting in the air. A little summer rain once in a while is a wonderful thing, as long as it's over before I have to set up for the next show ; )

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Temporarily Out of It

Quick drive-by. I still have no reliable internet connection. So frustrating to go through the endless lists of hardware, software, interference issues in the wireless router, etc. trying to eliminate one thing after another to find out why I can't get my machine to connect.

So the blog is on hold for a couple of days while I resolve my techonology freak out. Emails and orders are still happening.

How can one operate a web-based business with no web, you ask? Believe me, this ain't fun. See you in a few --

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Vive la Vie

I see London. I see France. How was Bastille Day? I had a piece of quiche for breakast and brought home a baguette from that lovely newish bakery over there – Bakery Nouveau. Some lady in front of me in line was giving the poor, overworked cashier gal an earful of “I hate to say this, but your pastries are quite expensive.” Nah. They are a few cents more than say Safeway’s donuts, but their croissants and brioche goodies are pretty much the same as any other little storefront bakery here. And they are worth every penny. William Leaman is the super talented pastry chef guy there and every single item I’ve tried is superb. The quiche is so silky and custardy, the brioche rich and luscious, the croissants super flaky, everything extra delectable. Very French and traditional and lovely.

So . . . the West Seattle show – I guess I wouldn’t say it’s wildy successful. But it is mildly successful. My great big blowout sale of extraneous doodah is being largely ignored. But a bunch of friendly regular and loyal customers have come by to chat and stock up – so it’s been a pleasant few days with the exception of a couple of uncomfortably hot hours yesterday afternoon. For a brief time in the afternoon, the heat kept creeping up and the breeze died completely. Sweating is not pretty.

But by the evening we were back to the breezes. The marine layer was drifting in with lower temperatures and clouds. A cool night, a cloudy morning, and then we’re on track for another bright and beautiful afternoon in very comfortable mid 70s.

Folks were gathering for Saturday night dinner out, the big street dance and bar hopping on the ave. But I was done in, just like all the other artists, the booths zipping up and vendors scooting out.

I’m back on the borrowed computer trying to compose something here, very discombobulating. I had to cave and buy a new printer Thursday because my big beast finally died and refused to move. Nothing in the world could coax it to print another label. I tried. I turned it off and on forever, resetting it, unplugging it, moving it, jiggling it. All my usual tricks which usually resulted in a couple of slow pages before it needed another nap. In a fit of panic and pique I just hauled it out of the office altogether and made a run to the store to buy a new model with a peppier attitude. I needed labels -- and quick. I needed to copy and print and do business stuff. So I’m printing, but still not getting any internets. The wireless device is kaput or my computer is deaf, I’m not sure which. I’ll have to deal with all those diagnostics and repair shop banter on Monday.

Lovely to see you all folks who stopped by this weekend! I'm still there today from 11 to 7. Pizza by the slice at the new Garlic Jim's. Easy Street has bazillions of cds on sale and a killer breakfast. The antique mall and thrift shops have exploded on to the sidewalks with deals and steals. Come on by --

Thursday, July 12, 2007

She Cooks Too

We reached a record high of 98 yesterday and the heat was the only thing anybody could talk about. But I thought it was kind of fun to have a real hot summer day. It was only one. Today we are back to the 70's, maybe a high of 80.

Dinner was alfresco on the back patio. And I made something so simple but so delicious - Kitchen Sink Bread Salad. It's basically all the leftovers in the fridge tossed in a bowl. Since there is no real recipe, I won't even try to give portions, but this is the basics: take a large bowl and throw in whatever vegetables you've got. I had a couple ears of corn, sliced off the cob, a can of artichoke chunks, a can of white beans, a half of a tomato, a handful of pitted olives. I hadn't wanted to cook at all, but decided that I really wanted some carmelized onions, so I used up the last half of red onion and softened them in olive oil and a couple of cloves of garlic, tossed in at the end just to cook for a minute. The bread was the last chunk of chewy Italian loaf, cut into cubes. A piece of feta cheese crumbled in. The dressing was a balsamic vinaigrette, and I plucked a big bunch of basil from the yard and chopped that in last. Toss the whole thing so it's well mixed and the bread has soaked up a bit of dressing. Use more if it seems dry.

Tastiest cool dinner for summer! And I've got a little left for lunch today too. Heh, leftovers of leftovers, but I'm looking forward to it.

I've got more technology problems today too. My wireless internet connection is in total failure, so I'm borrowing a computer today. And my printer, which has been more than finnicky lately, is on strike this morning. I don't understand why my machinery is always acting up and behaving badly. I'm putting off even thinking about it until next week. So the internets stuff may be a little spotty for the next few days. Let those machines just sit and pout by themselves for awhile until they decide to play again - that will teach them. Or not.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

West Seattle Street Fair

Ok, here's the deets for this weekend's show. I'd be remiss if I didn't announce the specifics after all the hubbub about where I was going to be this weekend.

West Seattle Festival
Dates: Friday through Sunday, July 13 - 15, 2007
Hours: Friday and Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 11am-7pm
Saturday night street dance at 8pm
Location: at "The Junction" - the center being where California Ave SW intersects with SW Alaska
Booth Location: in front of Jak's Grill, just a few booths north of the main intersection (#88)

This is a fun neighborhood festival, and it's really well attended by the locals. Everyone comes out to support the little downtown West Seattle party. There are food booths, kids activities and a mini fun area, music stages, the shops have sidewalks sales of great bargains, the restaurants fence off bigger patio areas on the sidewalk and have food and drink specials, and several blocks are closed off for all kinds of booths - from local businesses to import stuff to handmade arts and crafts - a little soup of everything. There is always a line up for ice cream at the Husky Deli too.

I'm still gathering some small stuff to have a little clearance sale myself - some gift bags mostly, all different kinds, handmade paper, some organza too, and maybe some floral garlands that I can't find a use for. I'll have some sort of sale corner for sure, for all my bargain hunter peeps.

It's going to be 90+ today! My tomato plants are going to be so, so happy. I think they are growing at least 6 inches a day. I can't wait for fresh cherry tomatoes. And I'm off to work at Collage this morning. Such a lovely view of the lake from the front door - and everyone will be out enjoying the sunshine at lunch. Well, I hope they will anyway, instead of hiding inside in the air conditioning.

(Yay! Ichiro is staying here! Yay!)

Just Chillin'

We're supposed to have a heat wave the next day or two. That means upper 80's, maybe 90 degrees here. It's a high heat warning. Heh - pansies we are in the Northwest. We're just not used to it. It's like that every summer day in the rest of the country. Phoenix and Las Vegas with their 117 must think we're nuts. But the folks will be sweating and complaining anyway. I sorta like it.

Yesterday I made a few test batches of fall soaps. I tried out 3 new combinations which I hope will work out. The first one was a sweet pear with a hint of lavender and clove - a little spice and sophistication to the fruitiness. The second one was a Cinnamon Spice combo - a new version of holiday spice type stuff just to try something different. And the last one was a Mandarin Persimmon soap with cranberry seeds. It's orangey, fruity in a kind of deep berry or pomegranate way, and the teeny seeds I hope won't be too scratchy, but just the right little addition. But it's just gelling now overnight. So it's too early to tell how anything will turn out.

I've got lots more show stuff to do today. So I better get cracking before it gets hot around here. I already got a bit of a late start because I got caught up watching the Tour de France on tv with my morning coffee. The castles and countryside are so charming. I think we've declared it French Week here. Celebrating Bastille Day on Saturday, watching the tour, and eating everything French-like. Like tiny nicoise olives and warm goat cheese on the salad. Herbs de Provence and a little mustard on the chicken. French wines. Baked eggs with baguettes and cafe au lait for breakfast. Mmmmmm.

If you're not doing anything else Saturday, Cafe Campagne is having a Bastille Day celebration in the little courtyard next to it - Post Alley. It's my favorite place for breakfast on the rare occasions I can swing it. Saturday from 11am-11pm they are serving pommes frites and other little foods for $5 each, french wines, music etc. A little French party, oui oui. I don't think I can actually make it myself since the West Seattle show goes to 8pm. But I'll be there in spirit and maybe have a glass of champagne when I get home.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Summer Vacation

The last few days have been warm, dazzlingly sunny and picture perfect. Combined with the mid-week holiday, the whole week has felt like summer vacation. Long mornings in the back garden playing with the cats while reading and sipping coffee. Pleasant outings around town, the holiday family barbeque, dinner with friends, a short jaunt to Mt Baker - it's all been lazy and relaxing, even though I squeezed in a bit of work here and there too. The photo above is Baker Laker and Mt Shuksan. There's nothing prettier than the summers here. And we've had the most beautiful week I can remember in a long time.

But alas, today is Monday and back to work. There's a bunch to get ready for the West Seattle Festival this coming weekend, so I'm zipping through a list today. I'm hoping the little mental break will have me in the mood to create stuff and imagine up the fall seasonal product line. I'm going to go a little more simple this time, I think. Not as many bags and bows and items. I've been feeling like my show display has so much going on that it's hard to take it in.

I've sort of reached a jumbled state of gift bags and sets, accessories, several different styles of tins, etc. So I'm going to sort through it this week and maybe have a little clearance sale of some of my accumulated packaging stuffs this weekend. West Seattle is sort of a local block party and sidewalk sale for the shops at The Junction. So it might be the perfect place to sell the extras - have a little clearance sale on gift bags and such. I'll keep you posted on what comes up.

Maybe I'll get to catch a little lunch out back with this little cookie - who can resist a lounge chair in the shade?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Happy 4th!

Just to tie up a few loose ends from last week: the Choochokam problem is resolved and I think we're all on the same page. I wish the best for them and hope it's a great weekend for all my friends who will be there. But still, if you're looking for me, I'll be hanging out over in West Seattle that weekend.

The Taste of Tacoma show ended up a disappointment. Sunday came and went, and it was unanimous with everyone there - all of whom were roaming around bored and chatting by late afternoon - that sales were down by as much as half for a lot of folks. Who knows why. We just all have to get creative about how to boost up the summer.

And I tried a couple more melon varieties last week - Crenshaw and Gaya. Both were honeydew-like but not as good. Maybe they weren't quite ripe enough, or maybe there's a reason why the honeydew is so much more popular. They were less juicy, less flavorful, less sweet. I'm back to the Tuscan Cantalope again this week, and my favorite Dulcinea watermelon - the little melon-for-one size that's so sweet and seedless.

It's kind of cool to have a holiday mid-week. The roads around town are sort of dead, so I'm guessing a lot of people are already off holiday-making. Even if you have to work around the holiday, it still feels like a short week. I'm going to try to get in some focused bouts of serious work, in and around the periods of just plain goofing off. It finally feels like summer, with hot weather and clear skies all week. Maybe I can get my floatie in the lake before it's back to work.

Enjoy the holiday!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another lovely evening

Maybe it's just that I'm so supremely happy to be headed home after another 10 hour day on my feet -- but the evenings on my way out of Pt Defiance Park the last couple of nights have been really beautiful. Last night was more pinks and oranges, more evening strollers, and lots of kids cruising for fun.

I have a new theory - cell phones are ruining everything. The sheer volume of people walking through the fair with their little gadgets glued to the side of their faces is enormous. Everyone is yammering away, completely oblivious to their surroundings or whatever else is going on. They don't even notice the booths, can't hear the music stages, they aren't focused on who or what is around them. So in actuality, it's like they aren't even there. How can you enjoy what you are doing when you are completely unaware of what is happening around you? There was far less shopping, far less chatting, far less interacting with people who were at least looking at your work. People are stumbling through the motions of just getting through the fair to the other side.

I guess I'm just confused about it all. What's the point of going? How do you know if you've missed something great? Not to mention all that "living in the moment" cliche - but the living in the phone call is plain dumb. I understand the convenience of using it briefly to keep track of family and friends who are interested in other things at the fair, and using the phone to meet up after parting separate ways for a few minutes.

But as I was watching the parade of yakkers file past yesterday I was reflecting on how it was when we were kids. The whole family had to march along in tandem, looking at what everybody else wanted to stop for. Sometimes it was overwhelmingly boring or irritating. But other times it was kind of interesting. Stuff that one of my sisters liked, and I never would have given the time of day, turned out to be pretty cool. At least I learned what they were interested in, and in that way, got to know them better. Or when we had to stop for what seemed like eternity to learn about something Mom or Dad was fascinated in - sometimes we had an actual learning experience, or bonded with the folks, or whatever.

I'm probably being overdramatic about it, but even though from outward appearances all the cell phone yakking seems to be creating more intimate relationships, to me it feels more isolating, insulating and boring. While you're spending a bit more time with the few folks in your address book, you are missing another whole world out there that you can only experience when you are walking with your eyes open.

Or, maybe I'm just grumpy because sales yesterday were half of what we did the year before. With the exception of a rare few, every artist at the show was doing horribly. What gives?