Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back from Holiday

Just came back from a long weekend vacation up to the Sunshine Coast in BC. It's so gorgeous up there, and we were lucky to have nice weather for a day or two - missing the rain and storms here.

We stayed in these amazing treehouse tents that looked out over the Strait of Georgia - sitting on the deck and watching the boats go by, the sunsets change a million colors. Super cool, so luxurious and a really special treat.

And the jetted spa tub with a view was unbelievable. Wish I could have stayed forever, but it was nice just to have a few days off to recharge my batteries before the next slog of shows and fall/winter busy-ness. The fair sets up in a week, and there is so much to do before then, plus the fall newsletter to be finished up. So I'm back to work today, but dreaming of the sound of waves lapping the rocky shore below while I lounge in the treetops.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer Clearance Sale

I've just added a whole bunch of new stuff to the Clearance Sale page - it's lots of great deals but it won't last long.

Summer seasonal soaps, discontinued sprays, bath salts in the glass jars, scented body oils and incense wands, pretty pots . . . . have at it. I need space for all the new fall stuff - coming soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We melted

Oh my gosh it was so hot over the weekend. All three days were a sauna out there in that field. It felt like my tent was an oven roasting bag and all I needed was a little shake-n-bake to be cooked to perfection.

The high in Seattle was 90 on Friday, but it was 98 in Redmond, where we were setting up. I love, love, love the guy with the fancy copper sprinklers just a couple booths down on the corner. He had set up one of his sprinklers to shower out in the open grass, and most of the folks at the show spent the day prancing in the spray. It was roasting hot the entire time. Saturday may have been 2 degrees cooler, and I don't know about Sunday, but it was so muggy and thick that it was miserable for everybody - sellers, customers, dogs and babies. And of course sales were crap, so that didn't help.

But the good thing? the good thing is that all that heat gave me TOMATOES! I was convinced that we were never going to get a single tomato this season because a week ago it felt like fall already and most of the day - mornings and evenings were cool and nighttime lows were darn chilly. But those few days of hot, super hot, blasting hot started turning those little green lumps to red and gold. Sugary little morsels of tomato goodness. My very favorite thing - cherry tomatoes off the vine. I'm actually making a salad of them today. I harvested a whole bowl, yum.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Did I leave it in here?

It's been smelling a lot like fall around here lately as I am in full swing of cooking up the new autumn seasonal products - pumpkins, apples, cinnamon spice, figs and vanilla. It's yummy, even if it's a little out of whack.

Yep, my nose is back today and all is well. I have no idea why I just went blank yesterday, but it was a leeetle bit scary.

My head is swimming though, so much going on behind the scenes. The bulk of my day today is packaging soap bars for the show. I have a bunch left to do, just to make sure I have enough of everything everyone wants. But here's what else I am doing today (and sort of all week long too):

starting a batch of soap to whiz up this evening
working on the autumn mailing - one piece at a time, like envelopes yesterday, stamps today
updating the web site with new products and new sale stuff (more on that next week)
ordering supplies generally
ordering supplies ahead for the Puyallup Fair (it's 3 weeks away!)
designing labels and packaging for fall products
making a couple of experiment thingies for winter and spring
sending out a handful of mail orders
finishing up a couple last minute show applications
doing more research for a special project, taking copious notes
working on my inventory for the fair
a bunch of random other stuff, like bookkeeping and filing
and writing this blog too.

There will be emails and phone calls today. Plus packing up the rest of the show stuff. Grocery shopping and real life too. It starts to feel like the brain is whizzing around so fast that little pieces fly out and disappear into the atmosphere. If you see something fly by today, it's probably another little task I was trying to remember to do that just took flight as I start to lose my marbles. I'll come get it later, maybe next week.

Whew it's hot today. And going to be a scorcher this weekend. That means 90 for us. And believe me, that's like 150 for true Northwesterners.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Best of the Northwest - Marymoor

Another show this weekend. I'll be at the Best of the Northwest's summer show in Marymoor Park.

Art at Marymoor Park

Dates: August 15, 16 & 17 ~ 2008
Hours: Friday 12-6, Sat and Sun 10-6
Location: King County - Marymoor Park
6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE
Redmond, WA 98052

This outdoor show is in beautiful Marymoor Park, located two miles from the Microsoft Campus. 'Art at Marymoor' picks up a forty year tradition of celebrating community, art & recreation. With 120 juried artists, this event tailors to a sophisticated, optimistic and humanitarian audience of four to six thousand. An intimate event with a relaxed atmosphere. Bring your friends and take a moment to discover your creative side. Take a look at the map of bike trails and be green for the day. Not to mention get some exercise, expand your mind and maybe even taste some wine. We look forward to seeing you.

Last year it rained cats and dogs - Sunday was a swamp in the park. So this year promises to be oodles better - a heat wave of sunshine is predicted. Oodles is my new favorite word today. I'm using it for everything. Trying to get a million things done at once, and get ready for the show too. And I've lost my sense of smell this week, but especially today. I can't smell anything. Maybe it's hormonal. I'm just assuming it's temporary - it hasn't been great for awhile though. Maybe I just overused my shnoz and have burnt it out altogether. I'm frustrated as hell though. There are several bars that look almost the same and I can't tell them apart. The colored ones are obvious and I've got no problem. But I wanted to package a bunch of Verbena, Cucumber, Rosemary Orange and Bergamot - all of them are so close in color and my nose gots nuthin'. I keep trying, giving up, heading outside for fresh air. Coming back to those later and sniffing again. Maybe tomorrow. I'll let it slide for today because otherwise I'm going to need a straight jacket too.

Bring your dog out to the dog park at Marymoor and let 'em run. Stop by our little tent city and see the art too. We're sort of in the middle of everything, out in the field. There should be signs. It's just on the main road so you'll see the sea of white tent tops if you're driving through.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Day

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

- Mary Oliver

(courtesy of D. who gave me the loveliest
hand-printed card with this poem on it - thank you)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Apple Harvest Afternoon

It's apple eating time, or so says the racoons who came out to play today. There are actually 4 little ones in the tree next door this afternoon, play fighting on the branches, scratching and scritching, racing up to the top and back down, and chowing down on dozens of ripe apples, mostly knocking them to the ground with just a few bites in them. The air smells like a fresh cider press over there, so many apples crashing to the ground below and collecting in mounds and piles all over the place.

I'd love to do a little eating myself, but they are hard and bitter, more like crab apples than anything tasty. But the little guys seem to be having a fine time cavorting around and staring at the stranger with the camera staring back.

I've taken the week to sort of rest up a little bit. I say sort of, because it wasn't so much. Just a little less pressed and on deadline than the last couple of months. A few extra hours to play with new labels and packaging prototypes for the fall products. A chance to mull over some ideas for winter holiday products. Nothing is truly set in stone yet, although I've started on some soap production for fall. Depending on how they turn out, I'll pick the best ones and do another bunch of batches in the next week or so. I only hope the apple one smells as good as the tree next door.

Monday, August 04, 2008

More legal stuff - Tax Free!

Two posts today. I'm catching up on things and I've been meaning to post this info for a while.

Mail orders and the new sales tax. That's the issue. If you've been reading along, I've mentioned the BIG SALES TAX CHANGE of July 1st. What happened, in case you missed it, is that sales taxes have changed in the state of Washington - in a really big way across the board. Everyone now pays the sales tax rate at the place they receive goods, instead of the sales tax rate from where it was shipped. Destination-based they call it.

Up until now, people who mail ordered from me had to pay the Seattle sales tax rate, because that's where I am located and from where the goods were shipped. Now you pay whatever sales tax rate you have at your house, if it's going there. Which is generally a bonus, because there are few places who have the same high rates as me, nobody has it any higher, and most people are paying less. Ok, it's only a few cents here and there, but it matters.

The whole thing is a royal headache for me. Because reporting it is going to be a nightmare and tax dollars are headed all over the place. Some places are going to be rolling in it, and some towns are going to be hurting badly. For instance, Kent is warehouse heaven. The entire city is comprised of industry, manufacturing and warehouses where things are stored and shipped. The old way: you live in Kirkland, buy a couch in a Bellevue showroom, but the furniture is located in a warehouse in Kent and trucked off from there to be delivered to you. You were paying Kent tax rate and the money went to Kent municipality because that's where it was shipped from. Kent survived on those tax dollars. Now they will have vastly less money coming in, because people are paying taxes to their own city whenever something is delivered. I have no idea how this will all shake out, but there will be reverberations.

What it means for me and you however, and I'm always looking for a silver lining - this is going to be sweet for out of state shipments. Whenever you order from me and have something delivered to family or friends out of state -- NO TAX at all!!! Think about that. It's one of the major reasons internet sales were so good anyway. Lots of times it was tax free because the company was located out of state. Now it applies to me and you both in Washington, but sending a little special something to your pal in California, your Mom in Florida, the sis in New York and the aunties in Missouri. All those shipments are tax free, even though we are located here. It's good.

I hate taxes too. Hate. So I wanted to mention this new tax free bonus which came out of the new legislation. So you can give it some thought before the holidays roll around.

ETA: to be more clear, in case it all went too fast. It is written in the U.S. Constitution that no taxes can be collected across state lines, so I don't think that's going to change any time soon (no matter how badly those politicians want to collect on internet sales). So all shipments going to someplace outside of Washington state will not have taxes charged. Period. Make sense? No? Call me.

Red Alert

There is panic in the indie beauty business right now. There is new legislation in the works that could put us all out of business in one fell swoop. It's called the FDA Globalization Act and it's on its way. Basically, it regulates the food business, but there is a small section that covers cosmetic manufacturing, and under the guise of making cosmetics safer, it decrees that any business, small or large, that makes any kind of bath or personal care product needs to now register all their recipes and formulations with the FDA and pay astronomic fees each year in order to do so. The red tape is going to be insane. And the fees are not manageable for anyone with a home business. It will put us all out immediately. There will only be grocery store soap and corporate beauty products from here on out if this actually takes place.

That's the panic. If you are interested in learning more, watching a video about what is happening, or signing a petition, go here. There is a group of local women headed to Washington DC to petition the new regulations, and Anne Marie of Brambleberry in Bellingham explains it all here. Their big meeting, with Senators and bigwigs is tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Pretty scary stuff.