Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, it's really that blue



Just a few photos of Hawaii from last week. Yes, the water really is that incredible turquoise blue, the sky is really that unbelievable blue, and the superfine sand is really that white - so amazing. I still can't believe I was there just a few days ago. It's such a different world from here.









The last two days have been a flurry of work. All the orders are caught up. The mailing is at the printer now and should be ready tomorrow. Which means that I'll spend the weekend stuffing it, and finishing up the website for the big announcements on Monday.

I've updated the calendar section of the website so far, and am working behind the scenes on the rest of it. It's now a lovely pink scene, with a few new photos too. The rest will be uploaded Sunday - when I get the bulk of the product photos finished and everything proof-read.

Today I'm working on getting a pile of new inventory ready to take over to Collage. I want the shop to be ready for the spring debut, and I'd like to have a pile of new things for Valentine's Day too. I'll have my little display all fixed up there tomorrow, when I can get a break to drive over and do the shuffle. Just wanted to mention that the shop is closed Mondays this month, since it's such a slow month. I'll check on the schedule for February and make a note of it here and on the website so nobody makes a wasted trip over.

And with that, I'll leave you with a few seconds of surfing the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore - super windy day, and major big waves - so that's all the rushing sound in the background. It's just a teeny clip from my digital camera, not a real video, so it's not going to get an Oscar. Just wanted to try a new thingie.

video

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm back!

Just flew in late last night from a week in Hawaii. I sorely needed a little bit of sunny paradise and it looks like I took the perfect week of cold and snow warnings to ditch the gray skies.

It's hard to readjust to this shabby looking little world I left just a few days ago. This morning, looking out my window to the blowing winds and gray little winter neighborhood, it looks like a scene in black and white after all that technicolor turquoise ocean, brilliant tropical jungle flowers, lush vegetation and colorful paradise. January in Seattle is not nearly as pretty, it looks bleak and dead.

I'm glad to be back to my lonely little cats and fluffy bed. But the pile of work I need to plow through today is huge and I miss the beach already. The very worst part of vacations is the first day back home - unpacking and laundry, replying to all the calls, emails and whatnot, catching up and getting back into the groove. By the second day, you're in the swing. Today I'm still floating on the waves and not ready to get started.

Just dusting off the cobwebs in here and checking to make sure it still works. Then I'm finishing up orders all afternoon. I'm even optimistically hoping to get the last little polishing touches done on the mailing and over to the printers - but if I'm being honest, it's not going anywhere until tomorrow.

Standing on the white sand beach, the vast and powerful ocean lapping at your toes, and the limitless, mysterious universe of stars overhead . . . well, it's an awesome thing. Just a tiny speck. Even less than a speck, I am. Peaceful was what I took away from it. No big breakthroughs or life changing moments. Just a calming, a frolic in the warm sun, and a little check on the list of things I've always wanted to see. It's beautiful there, the people are so friendly and helpful, but I'm not a big rum and fruit juice drinker and I think they need more consonants or less vowels in their language. Every word we tried to pronounce had multiple a,e,i,o,u's and a few k's and l's - sounding more like we were suffering some stomach ailment.

Not complaining - I'll go back any time. Tomorrow even.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Winter Break

Ooooh, I love stamps. And I love Chinese lanterns too. So these new stamps, just released, are doubly wonderful. I had to have them for the new spring mailing in February. Yes, you'll get one if you're on my mailing list. Soooooo pretty.

Big Announcement - drum roll please. I am closing up the shop this week for a winter break. No orders, no calls, no nothing until Tuesday Jan 29th. Everything is on hold for a week of rest, recuperation and play. Hopefully this doesn't cause somebody grief and inconvenience. But I need a break and this boring, sleepy time of year is a good excuse to slip off and play hookie.

Have a good week everybody!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nothing is Lost

Nothing Is Lost

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

by Noel Coward

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shorts

A few quickie updates today:

The soapmaking class at Molbak's is postponed due to construction work in the main stage area. Don't exactly know the new date yet, but working on it, and will let you know as soon as it's finalized.

I've updated the clearance page of the web site with some of the winter holiday stuff, in case you're looking for a little bargain.

I'll be closing the office from Jan 22 through the 28th for a short mid-winter break. Any orders that come in during that time will be shipped Jan 29th.

I'm working towards getting the spring newsletter and announcements out Feb 1st. It's a really short deadline between the holidays and the end of January. Spring is a relatively quiet season, so I'm not planning a whole list of new products. I'm focusing on a splendid list of new soap scents instead. And I'll have all the regular soaps back in stock, most of them with the new, super luscious recipe. I'm adding a smidge of shea butter and hemp oil to the standard recipe for all the soaps, just to make them that much better. More moisturizing, more creamy, more yummy than ever before.

Soap is what I do, so I'm trying to give you all the very best. There's a bunch of it on the drying racks now, and I'm adding the "sold out" scents back to the website as quickly as I can.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Feed the birds

Yesterday. One afternoon of glorious sunshine. And it was really beautiful, don't get me wrong. But after all these days of dark grey skies, the sunshine illuminated a whole lot of dirt in the house that I hadn't really noticed before. Dust and cobwebs, filthy windows, it was horrifying. I had to spend the day cleaning.

My neighbor was shouting about how it was the best snowboarding day of the year, but I was outdoors washing my windows from the outside. It really made such a difference, so much brighter and lighter in here. Not that you'd know that today - its' grey, cold and raining again, sigh.

I think that's why everyone gets in the mood to do some spring cleaning. A few sunny days and you realize that you've been living in dust bunny heaven and have to do something about it. It's obviously a little early for all that yet, but our one big day of sunshine certainly reminded me that spring is truly right around the corner.

Little tops of bulbs are poking up in my garden everywhere. And the bushes are budding out little pink pokey things. I can't wait to see green and life again. Birds too. There are a few that show up for little bits of time when the rains stops for a minute. But I miss all the squawking and carrying on that spring brings.

What I love this week: lemon and citrus everything - I can't get enough lemon (scurvy?), the new FRS health supplements that just arrived, hanging out in front of the heater vents with the cats, the colors pink and orange, flannel sheets (light blue, with polka dots!) and filing. You? what's up, yo?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rain, rain, go away

It's been so dark, gray and wet that it's hard to get out from under the blankies in the morning. And hard to get motivated to leave the house or do anything at all.

My shift at the shop yesterday was lonely - hardly a peep from anyone, the streets empty, even the radio was dull and lethargic. I'm headed back there tomorrow, but I'll bring a magazine or something to keep me occupied while the rest of the world hibernates.

Even though it is supremely difficult to get excited about work again, I've somehow managed to finish all the bookkeeping chores and last year turned out ok. A teeny bit down from the year before, but with the loss of all the Country Craft shows, plus the first year without the Tacoma market too, I really can't complain. Somehow the rest of my sales rallied to almost cover what was missing. The competitive side of me is rallying to make this year a whole lot better.

Soap making is under way too. And that is almost harder to get up and running again. It's like a giant rock that you were rolling up hill and chugging along, but once you stop for a break, it's back-breaking to start moving again. I don't know why - because I'm actually excited about the new soaps. I've got some Spring soaps that I really want to see how they turn out. And I'm working out a little change in the recipe for all the soaps. I'm taking them up a notch and adding shea butter and hemp oil to all the soaps for just a little more pampering and moisturizing luxury. It's worked out so nicely in the Rosemary Orange and Bergamot soaps that I wanted to make the whole line just a tad bit more luscious. The first few batches are just catch-up of what I've done in the past, but I'm doing a new batch here and there to work out any glitches before I go whole hog.

And there's other ideas too that I need to work on. And I WANT to work on them. But the gray skies, cold winds, and happily napping cats are making me sleepy and tired all week. In the end, I think January really is a month for nurturing oneself and I probably need the sleep. Eating healthy, taking it slow, catching up on sleep and slowly rebuilding strength for what's to come this year. It's part of the cycle, and a necessary step in the progression of seasons.

Spring will be here before you know it, but that's next month. For now, we're still buried under the blankies, making plans.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cashmere Booties

Mmmmm, warm cashmere booties, so precious. This was the window display at Purl Soho in New York a few weeks ago when I went to visit just before Christmas. I mostly spent the time window shopping all over town, soaking in the holiday lights and decorations, taking in all the holiday spirit.

Yah, I know I mentioned that I would post pics of the lights to share, but I just got a little too frazzled in those last few days before Christmas and had to remove myself for a brief bit. Now it's all long over, but I wanted to share a few of the cuter little displays anyway. Cuz it's all so cute and creative and nothing like the same old stuff we see here.

Here's another little window at Purl:



ABC Carpet & Home



Tinsel Trading Company



Two cool windows at the big Anthropologie store at Rockefeller Plaza. An igloo made out of milk cartons, and a little skating scene illuminated in the middle of like a 2-story dress (only a slight exaggeration).





The most amazing little sweets at a Japanese treat shop. Almost architectural, they looked like they were made from clay.



And the most fun - the holiday markets around town. Little clusters of outdoor tents set up, with artisans and craftspeople selling their cool wares for holiday gifts, similar to the markets they have in Europe during December. We browsed around Columbus Circle (here) and the other one in Bryant Park too, around the skating rink. Several soap vendors out there too, everyone with their own little take on the business. Loved it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

TGIF

Ah the joys of working at home. I am spending the morning in my flannel jammie pants at the computer. It's boring, to be sure. I need to input all the mailing list info, order info, and bookkeeping stuff from the last couple of months.

It's all data and numbers and mumbo that is necessary for the business, but stuff I hate. If I can plow through even a chunk of it, I need to do a complete inventory this afternoon of every single item of product or supply in the studio. Necessary for taxes. But a good way to get things organized and cleaned up after the mad rush. If there are any crumbs left, I may have a few things to put up on the clearance sale page. But I'm not expecting it, there's not a lot here. Just a jumble.

I met with Lauren, the events planner at Molbak's (the best nursery/garden store in the universe) yesterday. We have big plans. I'll be teaching a soapmaking class there on Feb 2nd. And if it goes great, there will be more, and possibly my soaps in the shop, and maybe a spa series of workshops down the road, and, and. We'll see. One step at a time.

But the first class is a for-sure thing. I've started working on the handouts and class description. It will be on their calendar page in a few days or so. And when we get it in print, and have a phone number for registering, I'll post all the info here immediately - and on the calendar of the web site too. But if you are so inclined to learn how to make soap the old-fashioned way, from scratch, put a little star on your own calendar for Sat, Feb 2, 2:30pm and check back next week.

Today I feel out of sorts - not in the bad mood way, just not sorted out. Like there is a mountain of bits and pieces I need to put together to make sense of what needs to be done this month. I just transferred my 2008 calendar, writing in the birthdays and such, setting up my new system for this year. But I have a pile of stuff next to it that still needs to be put into time. Fliers, notices, due dates of things that are awaiting placement in the big book of "WHAT TO DO". Without my little system I am lost. And since the first lists haven't even been started yet, I'm still wandering around in the forest a bit. I'm starting on the first few tasks of the month that have to be done first. And I have to sort out the giant mound of everything else that needs attention this month. January can be really hard, with all the planning and scheduling and rush to get spring in the hopper before February 1.

I'm trying not to feel overwhelmed and behind already, on the like the second day into the new year. I'm still a little fragile from all the overwhelm of the last few months. I know it's all doable and I've been here before. But I'm not feeling that sort of "endless time to do it all in" feeling that I usually get in January. Instead I'm already feeling the pressure of deadlines with a planned vacation coming up at the end of the month plus the class, newsletter, spring seasonals and announcements all due the following week. Better get cracking.

At least it's in my slippers, with the cats napping cozily next to me. Rough, eh? Cue the violins.