Tuesday, September 30, 2008


What now? What's next?

No matter what the government ends up doing here, the best possible predictions are for at least several more years of deep recession, which I thought we were already in, so isn't more of it an actual depression? I'm no expert but it all sounds bad and scary.

I feel like I should be doing something, like buying batteries or stocking up on provisions - sort of like we've gotten an advance weather warning of a huge storm coming in. It feels like I should be preparing somehow, but I have no idea how. It's a little surreal to keep going on business as usual during all this meltdown and crisis, but that's what we are all doing. Until we know something more.

At this point of the year I am usually full steam ahead in preparations for the huge holiday shopping season. I'm guessing it won't be quite so big this year. I should be placing supply orders for all the cool new stocking stuffer and gift packaging ideas I've cooked up. But I'm pretty sure I should be changing my plans and scaling back everything instead. However, I still need to be making soap - as much as possible - because I never quite have enough inventory by the time we get into mid-December. And time is short. Too short. My show schedule is huge and my deadlines are coming so fast. And yet I'm a little paralyzed by confusion on where I should be focused and what I should be doing proactively.

Are we all going to be living in Hooverville next year? People will still need soap, right? Even if I don't have to worry about losing my job, losing my business isn't a great option either. Well, I can't worry about all that today. I have to whiz up this batch of soap and carry on. This weekend is Salmon Days in Issaquah - one of the biggest shows around here. It will be a good signal of what the season will be like. And the weather is always iffy - this year will be no exception with rain, storms and wind predicted, even if today is supposed to be another sunny, warm, perfect day. Figures.

The bad weather has never hampered us in the past - with crowds coming out no matter what, and shopping happily. So I'm getting myself ready for a prosperous couple of days in the rain, with my boots. I'll get the links and details together and post those tomorrow, in case you're planning on going to the show.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Farm Day

Saturday was the Harvest Celebration here, where dozens of local farms were open for tours, special demonstrations, chefs cooking in the fields, petting of the animals and milking of the goats. Most of them are CSA's, which are community sponsored farms - you buy a share for a few months or a season, which makes you sort of an investor in the farm while they grow the crops, and you get a fresh box of produce and flowers weekly. That way they have funds to operate and a guaranteed market, and you get locally grown, organic, fresh food from folks you know. It's a great plan all around.

We've been wanting to do this for a while now, but just hadn't worked out which farm - there's so many it's hard to choose. And we needed a beautiful sunny day in the fields just to enjoy the final warm days of September. So we headed out, tramped around and bought veggies, cheese, and honey. We found one farm that we can volunteer hours as compensation for the CSA, which would be a whole lot more fun. You head over for 4 hours a week and work at the farm, receiving the same box of goodies each week. We're definitely going to do that next summer, but in the meantime, we're figuring out another farm to sign up with during the winter.

Such a gorgeous day. Cool to see all the families that brought kids out to see the animals and fields, do a little pea picking to see where the food comes from, and choose pumpkins and spooky gourds.

I would love to have my own little tiny farm - not a big one, but just someplace with a little more land than my postage stamp in the city. I'd love to grow more of my own food, but I don't have the space or enough direct sun in any one area besides a few tomato plants. At the moment I'm plotting a little corner for a worm bin. And maybe a raised bed over on the side for a zucchini plant or a row of carrots next year. I've grown them before, but it's more work than stopping at the farmer's market, which usually has a way better selection anyway. I don't know - with all this talk about recession and depression and economic meltdown, it makes me want to plant potatoes and cabbages in the front lawn and start canning stuff.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hot tomato

Even with the cooler weather and rain we've had this past week, I'm still harvesting tomatoes. I just can't eat them all. Tomatoes for every meal. I don't want to start hating them, so I've given bags away to the neighbors and friends. I'm pretty sure we're getting close to the end here. It definitely feels like fall now, and the nights and mornings are darn chilly, even if we get a few hours of sun in the afternoon. The ripening is not going to be happening at that breakneck pace, and the little skins will be getting tough. So I'm just enjoying what I've got left, and dreaming about next summer's crop.

The votes are in, and the favorite soaps for this year's Puyallup Fair were: Vanilla Bean & Honey, Patchouli, French Lavender and Roses & Violets. Now, those are not the most popular kids in school at all the shows, or even in general. But they were a hit at the fair, and I sold more soap bars than ever. The coolest kid on the block of the new fall soaps was Apple Jack. I only brought the new ones towards the end of the show. My intention was to sell the remaining spring and summer ones first, and make sure that I had enough fall soaps for the mail orders that were flooding in from the newsletter. But for what it's worth, the Apple was the top seller.

In mail orders, however, the Moroccan Fig is the queen. It's been a favorite among loyal customers for years, and they can't wait for it to come out again so they can stock up.

If you're planning on ordering a few things in the next week, a couple of notes - I'm temporarily out of the aforementioned Patchouli, Vanilla Bean & Honey, and Lavender Pear soaps. I've got batches curing, and they'll be ready in a week or so. But the Fair wiped me out of what I had in stock right now. I'm not making any changes to the website however. You know why? Because I never remember that I made all those notes and inventory limits and coding. And I don't have time to keep going back and updating it either. So last time I did that, I found out that months later, I still had the cabosh on a couple of my fragrances and nobody could order them from the site. I just plain forgot to fix it again when they were ready. And I already know my mental capacities are sketchy, so I'm leaving the website alone.

If you want to order them, go ahead. I'll take the requests as they come and let you know if I have to "back-order" a bar or two. But hopefully they'll all be ready for shipping pretty darn quick, and the glitches will be minimal.

Monday, September 15, 2008


It's a deceptively beautiful day here in the Northwest. A cloudless blue sky, with warm sunshine glowing through the leaves on the trees. I'm trying to go about my normal routines and do my everyday tasks, but it's hard to be business-as-usual when the news is one meltdown after another crisis after another panic attack. It sounds like the entire world is crumbling around us.

But even as gigantic banks fall (does anyone still think that privatizing social security and having those guys manage our retirement funds was a good idea?) the fair is still pumping out scones and the rides are still spinning the kiddies silly. I'm packing up more soaps and sprays to take over there tomorrow. And sending out orders today.

It's all I can do. Just focus on what's in front of me, stop to admire the flowers and the sunshine, appreciate the life that is around us - all of this planet that we live on. The catch in my throat when I stop for even a second to notice the way it is so intricately, powerfully, beautifully alive from the tiniest molecules and cells to the splendor of the galaxies. Sometimes I forget all that when I get too caught up in the news, the blogs, the politics and the hype.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

It's been 7 years since that day. I don't need to explain it. Everyone knows 9/11.

I've spent some quiet moments today thinking back to that unbelievable day. How awful it was to experience the unfolding of it all, hour after hour. Woken up by the phone, my Mom had just heard the report about the first plane on the radio and told us to turn on the tv. In my jammies, glued to my tiny little corner of the couch, huddled into a fetal position mostly, I watched the smoking buildings, the home video of the planes, the panic, the crumbling of the buildings, the chaos, the grief. Unable to take tear myself away from the constant news, I only left my spot to go to the bathroom, which I did about a hundred times. I peed so many times I didn't know how I could possibly go again - but that was my physical reaction to the complete horror. And I was a million miles away, totally unrelated to anything or anyone there, and just watching on tv. I can't even imagine how much worse it was for the victims, their families and people just living there at the time. I heard them. I watched them. And I still can't imagine how that felt inside. For me it was an emptiness and heartbreak larger than I've ever known, and still hasn't faded away completely. Not fear, not anger, just sadness and grief and devastation. Still.

I've tried to remember the hours, days and weeks that passed too after that single day that changed so much. Things were very different then from where we are now. The world is not the same place and we are still at war with people who didn't have anything to do with that event. So many more people have died. So many more lives are still at stake now.

So much can change in an instant. I'm heading outside for a minute to search the blue sky and listen for airplanes overhead. The eeriest thing ever was the total lack of sound overhead for all those days. I live under the flight path to the airport, you see. And there is the constant and regular little roar overhead of people coming, people going, life moving at a fast pace. But that day it all stopped. Everybody stopped and the silence was deafening. It's comforting now to hear the jets flying about on their regular schedules. Life goes on.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Still alive

Hiya! Just popping in to say that I'm still here. I'm still alive. Haven't keeled over. Yet.

[Beware: stream of consciousness rambling ahead.]

The fair is super busy. Seems like sales are a bit down this year - what else is new. But it's not going too bad either. Big crowds and lots of activity. I'm running back and forth for my work shifts, spending all my free time (what? what's "free" time?!) getting more inventory ready to bring back over.

In the meantime, whatever spare moments (again, what the heck is a spare moment?!) I can find are spent catching up with orders and trying to squeeze in "real life." Like the one cat who can't seem to kick the fleas even though she's getting treated regularly. So we had to do an extra dose of de-worming, de-flea-ing and the whole full-on cleaning of the house and a million loads of laundry to wash every single item that exists under our roof. And the other cat spent a very scary night away from home last night and gave us a heart attack.

I ate my first Elephant Ear at the fair. Those things are good. Too good. Because you know it's nothing but fried dough with more grease than a basket of fries, and then they slather on a half a pound of butter, and then a cup of cinnamon sugar. I shared it with someone, but I think I still ate a week's worth of calories and fat in that one piece of scrumptiousness.

I got home from working, super long day, and raced to the bathroom after the endless car ride home. The toilet flusher snapped when I pushed the handle. Argh. Who needs a late night race to the hardware store to sneak through the door two minutes before closing, purchase extraneous toilet plumbing pieces and then wade in elbow deep to repair a stupid flusher? I suppose there is never a good time for that kind of stuff to break. But dang. Now the shower faucet has started dripping. Head smack.

My tomato plants, once they started to ripen, have gone berserk. Maybe they took lessons from the zucchini. I'm eating tomatoes for every meal, giving away bags of the things, have bowls upon bowls in the fridge from yesterday and the day before. And still, there were a million news ones practically falling off the vine again today. I love them. I do. But I'm going to turn into a cherry tomato. I swear I will.

We've been having a pretty darn nice September. We usually do up here. It's sort of an extra month of summer. Except it's only warm for a chunk of the day, instead of day and night. Evenings and mornings are cool, and the dew is getting thick overnight. It's all good. The sunny afternoons have been extra gorgeous. I get to squint at the sky for a bit in between my fits of panic while I pet the cats frolicking in the sun spots out there. Or while I'm picking another bowl of tomatoes.

Everything feels really anxious-y lately. Like I'm right on the edge. I think it has a lot to do with the intensity of all the politicking in the final countdown to the election. All that lying and posturing, it makes me insane. The culture wars and the contentiousness of it all has us split into rabid teams (go, team, go) that inspires the absolute worst instincts in humanity. We aren't people any more, we are all stereotypes. Each hating the other side more each day that it goes on. I hate it. I can't wait for it to be over. Except that I'm scared to pieces about how it will turn out. So I'm alternating between hate, fear, disgust, terror, and plain insanity. I used to be hopeful. But that went out the window a while back. Now it's a constant loop of all the bad stuff, because that's what makes the highlight reels each day.

What are you doing for serenity?

eta: just a few corrections - because grammar still counts for something, even if telling the truth doesn't matter any more

Friday, September 05, 2008

Autumn Newsletter 2008

Autumn News

Autumn is ripe with possibility. The excitement and anticipation feels like the first day of school, with thumping chest, stiff new shoes, a whole new chapter ahead.  It’s a crisp sheet of pristine notebook paper and a stash of freshly sharpened pencils, ready to write your new story.  We have turned the page from sultry summer to the shorter days and brisk, cooler weather of fall.  With a fresh school year, new schedules and different routines, comes a chance to reinvent the way we live.  

Autumn Seasonal Soaps

Autumn’s cool, crisp air crystallizes our senses.  The whisper of wind, the crunch of dead leaves and twigs, and the light patter of raindrops welcome us back indoors to the comforts of home.  This year’s Autumn Harvest soaps are loaded with our favorite fruits and spices, taking the best of the season and celebrating the bounty.  ($4.00 each or 4 bars for $15.00)

Pumpkin Spice :  A little different blend this year, more fresh pumpkin and less sweet brown sugar.  Freshly cooked pumpkin custard, a dash of vanilla, and sprinkled liberally with cinnamon, sugar, spice and everything nice.

Moroccan Fig : Our most requested fall fragrance.  Dark, rich, ripe and fruity fig blended with an air of mystery — sensual, exotic, earthy and irresistible.

Apple Jack : Autumn and apples are inseparable partners.  This soap is an irresistible blend of baked apple, orange peel, and spice notes of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, finished off with just a kiss of vanilla and a splash of brandy.

Cinnabar Oatmeal: A creamy oatmeal soap with the unmistakable scent of rich spicy cinnamon blended with a petal or two of ylang ylang and a nip of sandalwood for an exotic, lush and nourishing treat.

Autumn Aromatic Sprays

The Autumn aromatic sprays, used for home fragrancing, will add a festive and cozy feel to any home.  Unlike potpourri or candles, these sprays can be used to spritz table linens, a quilt in a guest room, freshen bathrooms and closets, mist a note card or gift box, and a million other ways too. This season’s flavors are much requested scents, a tribute to my wonderful customers who know what they like.  ($6.00 each)

Apple Harvest : Tart, juicy green apples with a light sprinkling of cinnamon.  It's the quintessential scent of Autumn, and one whiff transports you to nostalgic memories of apple orchards, cider presses, the cracklesnap of crunchy leaves, and bobbing for apples.

Vanilla Spice: Vanilla, first grown in Mexico, was considered a gift from the gods. The world’s only edible orchid, vanilla grows on a vine and can only be pollinated by special small bees, hummingbirds or by hand in order to bear fruit – the vanilla bean.  It’s intoxicating scent is both calming and an aphrodisiac.  This fragrance spray is delicate vanilla blossom with just a subtle hint of toasted spice.

Rose Petals: Very traditional and simply lovely, it’s a bouquet of delicate fresh roses.  This is a single note floral of the finest, lushest rose blossoms.

New Lip Balms

Just for the Autumn season, I’ve added Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Mint and Carrot Cake flavored lip balms to the menu du jour.  Who can resist these treats?  It’s the same nourishing, natural lip balm base that I carry in a dozen lip—smacking flavors, but the perfect flavor for Halloween treats, Thanksgiving celebrations and Christmas memories.  See the enclosed brochure or the web site for the full list of flavors – Cupcake, Vanilla Tangerine, Root Beer, Raspberry Soda . . .mmm

Dead Sea Bath Salts

More of our big, beautiful jars of bath salts that we’ve had all summer, but with fragrances that harmonize with Autumn.  These  rustic, chunky salts come directly from the Dead  Sea.  Pure salts with a mineral content that is much greater than other types of sea salts, they work wonders on purifying and detoxifying, improving circulation and moisturizing skin, soaking away stress, and relaxing muscles, aches and pains.  These bath salts dissolve in water almost instantly, with a lush, silky feel – no gritty bottoms.  What we know for sure is that when you finally drag yourself out of these glorious bath waters, you are left with unbelievably soft, silky smooth skin that seems brand new.  For little foot baths or long evening soaks, these are the best bath salts I’ve ever tried.  * New:  now in plastic bottles for safer tub sports – same size, same design, just easier to handle.

Inspired by the season, the two new scents are scrumptious, edible Almond Ginger and beautiful, classic Vanilla Lavender (16 oz plastic bottle - $8.00)

Berry Basket Sets

We’ve found the sweetest little vintage-style wire berry baskets with wood handles.  They are 5 inches square and perfectly sized for gift basket making.  Adorable with a bar of a soap and one of the little cotton scrubbie accessories.  And they can be used for almost anything later – collecting keys on the front table to holding towels on the bathroom sink, to decorating up your fall home.  Check out the photos on the web site!  (Set - $12.95)

Tax Savings

The state of Washington has changed the way they charge sales taxes.  Mostly it’s a headache for mail order businesses.  But for customers (YOU!), it has benefits.  For anyone ordering by mail or internet, you will now be paying the tax rate of your own town, not mine.  This saves you money if you are outside of Seattle, because you no longer have to pay the highest rate in the state.  The very best of all – if you are ordering a gift to be shipped to family or friends out of state, there is no sales tax levied at all.  It’s a great time to think about your holiday gift lists.  I can package it all up, add messages and greeting cards and ship it all off for less expense than ever.  Just to celebrate the change, I’ll have more gift boxes, gift bags and special packaging introduced Nov 1st with the Winter Holiday announcements.

My Own Shop  – 2 More Guest Appearances

I’ll be repeating my little temporary Group Health storefront two times this fall.  I will have my own little retail shop for two weeks at the end of October and another two weeks at the end of November – and this time we’ll be open weekends for all the regular working folks who couldn’t stop by in the Spring.  Group Health has a tiny little jewel of a storefront that I am “renting” to have my own temporary shop space.  They loan it out to artists from time to time, and a percentage of our sales funds their TLC Guild, which helps with patient's needs.  It’s designed to be a gift boutique, especially focused on fall and winter holiday gifts. It’s located at 108 – 15th Ave E, kitty-corner from the Safeway on John St.  Dates are October 23 thru 30, and November 25 thru December 4.  Hope to see you there!

The next few months are filled to the brim with craft shows, fairs and festivals too.  I’m making an extra effort to bring the goodies to you – so check the enclosed calendar, and log onto the website to get even more details on the “Calendar” page.

As always, I sincerely appreciate your loyal business throughout the year, and wish you a brilliant and abundant harvest season!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Puyallup Fair 2008

I set up my dispay at the Puyallup Fair Tuesday. It is located in the Artists in Action space, which is on the ground floor under the Grandstand. We have a little handcrafted artisan boutique -- a mix of pottery, fiber arts, painting, basketry, jewelry, clothing and a bunch of other stuff, which is my category.

New at my display this year: my brand new bags from India arrived this morning, so there is a new variety of gift bags - some with just a soap and scrubbie, some with the addition of the cool back scrubber brush. Also new is lip balm. I've made the little tins of lip balm in lots of yummy flavors for years. But I was hesitant to bring them to the fair because they are so small, and stealable, and hard to price and pack for the masses. For this year's show they are packaged in sleeves of 5 tins, a variety of flavors, even the new fall ones - carrot cake, chocolate mint and pumpkin pie. I've also brought singles in the round english screw top tins - cupcake flavor only - in case somebody just needs one and not the whole variety pack.

Anyway, I wanted to post the details on the Puyallup Fair gig, in case anyone's headed over there in the next two weeks. It's like the biggest thing that happens all year for some folks, even if they are just going one night for an onion burger and a concert. Lots of great entertainment in the line up.

Puyallup Fair

The Fair is open September 5th through the 21st. Sunday through Thursday 10am-10pm. Fridays and Saturdays 10am -11pm. Yes, it opens tomorrow. And it's free admission from 10am-noon tomorrow. Tip: most people line up super early before work, get through the gate and get their hand stamped, then head off to work for the usual routine. Then they come back later for dinner and rides and whatever else on Friday evening. So that's the insider's way to work free Friday. The weekend starts the rodeo which kicks things off in case you want to stalk some cute cowboys.

I am a part of the "Artists in Action" area, which is in the Merchants Building -- the lower level of the Grandstand, at the west end, next to the Fisher Scone windows. It's a boutique style craft show, with lots of pottery and fiber arts, demos every day with artists demonstrating their techniques and craft. It's a central cashier style thing, with all of us artists in baseball caps milling around on the floor, meeting and greeting our guests. Oh, and stuffing our faces with fair burgers, scones, chili cheese fries and um, greasy type stuff during our breaks. Yipes.

The website (www.thefair.com) has more info about maps, directions, parking, concert and event schedules, ways to get discounted tickets, the works.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Just a quick drive-by to update y'all on the fall stuff.

Everything is happening at once this week, and it's a little overwhelming. I'm setting up the Puyallup Fair and stuffing the mailing and updating the web site and and and.

So in case you're anxiously awaiting anything, here's how it's going to happen this week. Tomorrow I'll post full details about the Fair - it starts Friday and goes through Sept. 21. I think Friday is the free day so it should be a madhouse over there.

I'm picking up the newsletter from the printers today and will stuff and send it out by Friday. It will be in your mailbox either Saturday or Monday. And the electronic version will happen probably Saturday or Sunday as I get all the links in order. I'll be putting it all up on the web site over the weekend, but may not have all the new photos posted until early next week. I'll do my best. It's a pretty big undertaking, getting all the ducks in a row with web, email and printed stuff, at the same time I'm working on getting the Fair up and running, whew.

So Soap of the Month Club shipments, which usually would go out like today or yesterday, are postponed until next Monday when I've got a day to package them all up.

Still waiting on my specially couriered shipment of super cool bags from India, and biting my nails that I get them by tomorrow afternoon so I can run them over to the Fair by Friday when we open. The lip balm flavors that were back-ordered just arrived yesterday so I need to make those too, both for the show and for the fall newsletter debut. Tomorrow will be lip balm production. It's all so last minute again. But this time I really planned, really I did. I just didn't expect such delays in the shipment of some of my supplies. It's always something.

Anyway, it's all in the works as we speak. More later -