Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cucumber Melon Lip Balm

Big production day yesterday, even though the weather was so summer perfect outside. I got around to making a boatload of lip balms, and realized that I totally forgot I had gotten some cucumber melon flavor oil to do a summer seasonal flavor this year.

I made a batch yesterday afternoon, a little late for the newsletter and all the hoopla about it, but it's really good. It's more melon than cucumber - mostly Jolly Rancher watermelon with a slight tinge of cucumber, which makes it a little hip and cool. I can still drool over the favorite candy of my childhood but feel all grown up about it.

I can't believe that I just remembered it now. Last fall when I found the flavor, I was dying to make a batch, but held off because it was pumpkin and eggnog season. And I guess it just got buried after awhile, both in the cupboard and in my brain. But it's here now, and super fresh and yummy. It's ready for the summer show season, and I'm putting it up on the web site this morning too. Lip smacking delish. But as I mentioned, I'm sort of a sucker for that watermelon candy thing.

Hey blog readers, if you order on the website in the next week, type "free lip" in the message box and I'll toss one in for you to try. Offer ends Sunday, June 7 at midnight. Try it HERE.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The poppies popped!

Oh my, we've had such gorgeous weather, especially for a holiday weekend. I know that was days ago, but I'm catching up. I had to work a small show Friday, but had the long weekend off, and I didn't work a lick. Just enjoyed the lovely weather, hanging out with friends, and grilling with the family. I can't remember when we've ever had a Memorial Day holiday with all three days of sunshine and warm weather. What luck!

Tuesday was a blur of orders, calls, emails and work. The big summer show season is just beginning, and I've got two weeks before it truly becomes a non-stop slog, with back-to-back shows every weekend for months. I'm trying to gear up, get inventory built up, and be ready for it. But there's so much gardening and lazing about to do.

I've planted a mix of radishes in an old drawer, and they need to be thinned. Those little sprouts make the nicest salad, especially with the mint tops that keep shooting up several inches a day.

And I've got a mix of baby lettuces just starting to pop out - planted in a couple of wire locker baskets. Looks like they need to be thinned and rearranged too. And all those squashes, pumpkins and tomatoes need to be watered while the weather is hot and sunny. There's no time for work!

By the way, yes the raccoon has been back to visit. He likes to toss my buckets and pots over and roll them around the yard in the wee hours of the morning. And in all my slug hunting (which has made great progress) I've come to the conclusion that it was the snails that ate most of my petunias. Wow, great big snails. I hadn't seen them before. Double ewww.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fighting Nature

Ewwww, gross! Slugs!!!!!!

I'm so mad at the slugs. They've eaten 2 of my new zuchini plants. Not all of them - in fact they haven't touched the other ones - the regular green ones, or the pumpkins. But the yellow zuke and the new super cute 8-ball zuke that I just planted are gone. Totally chewed to the ground. And they've pretty much decimated my coneflowers too. I found two of the three starting to come back, and I tried to leave a little (garden-friendly) slug bait around them because they looked a little beat up. And today, they are in much worse shape. I almost couldn't find one of them, it's a nub.

I've been picking and plucking them. But I guess I need to get more serious - beer cans, traps, hunting. They are getting way out of hand.

The other thing that's out of hand? This stupid racoon that decided to mess with me last night. It was 4am. And I heard a giant racket out in the back yard - loud thumping and trampling. And before I could even get to the window, there was a crash. The thing was out there playing around with the lawn furniture and cat toys. And when I peeped out, he waddled over to the window, stood up on his hind legs and stared at me. So I ran for the back door and turned on all the lights to shoo him off. He crossed the yard, coming towards me, and jumped up onto the potting bench, and stared back down at me from about 12 inches from my face. I pushed him with a stick and he wouldn't budge, yelling all the way.

So I went back in. It was chilly. My little nightgown was thin. My feet were bare. He explored my plant stuff there, and started tearing away at the bag of slug stuff - got the zip-lock open and was pawing around in it. And I felt bad, I didn't want him to get sick, so I ran back out, lights blazing, stick waving. He dropped the bag, but didn't move. So I grabbed it from him, zipped it back up, stuffed it behind some things down below. Wow, am I dumb.

He watched the whole thing from a foot away. And when I headed back inside, he knocked over everything on the entire shelf and grabbed the bag again. Starting gnawing away like crazy, ripping it to shreds and throwing the little pellet thingies all over the place. I missed the beginning because the dumb cats had just run over to help me out and I was trying to shoo them back in the house and out of the way.

When I realized that the guy was having a food fight with the slug bait, I ran back out and practically slapped it out of his hand, grabbing it and taking it inside. He was still sitting there, with a defiant look on his face, daring me to wave my stick again. I was tired. I think I pulled something in my back from all the stick waving. I closed the door and headed back to bed. Let him have his jollies.

Which he did. This morning, I opened the back door to a bigger mess. I had a few of the last little plant starts that didn't get planted yet sitting in a far corner. One was turned over and ripped up - dirt and roots and leaves in a trail across the patio. One was gone. Just missing. I've looked everywhere - back yard, front yard, side yard, the neighbors yard, the other side of the fence. He just took it cleanly away. Little saxifrage with the sweetest teeny pink flowers. Gone.

What gives? This is the city. Like seriously, the real city. Not the suburbs. A couple miles from the flippin' highrises of downtown. I'm not supposed to be fighting wildlife here! I'm sure he'll be back. Can't wait for the next episode.

Best of the past

Hi all - just thinking as I'm packing away for the weekend.

Is there a favorite seasonal soap from the past that you are just dying to have me bring back?

I was sort of pining for a jasmine mint soap this morning, and wanting a bigger bar of the cucumber one that I just introduced as a mini in the "Suds" set. Is there anything you fondly remember that I've done before and don't have right now? Summer or any other season?

Just to get you thinking: Jasmine Mint, Citrus Mint and Poppy, Cucumber Mint. Oops, I guess I'm stuck on mint. But please add a comment below if you have a request for me, for any season - fall is coming up next, but winter is almost at the same time. Was there a Vanilla type, a Pumpkin type, a Cinnamon Spice type?

While my hands are busy, my brain is going double time on new ideas for other flavors. Like Vanilla Mint (or Butter Mint). Ok, no more mint. Vanilla Cinnamon. Cinnamon Plum. Nutmeg Lemon. Persimmon. I don't know. I'm open to suggestions. Let me know.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm Not

I'm writing a post today in frustration. I know that's completely wrong and a professional person shouldn't be doing it. But by gum, I'm doing it anyway.

My website, while cute, is giving me a headache. And from the sound of it, it's probably giving you all one too. As a lot of you know, I do it all myself. And it's a bit old-school - meaning it doesn't have all the fancy bells and whistles that a lot of people who buy stuff online expect. I wish it did. But I can't afford a web designer and all that fancy stuff. So I do the best I can with a little host company and their standard template-type options, some of which do not fit my own unique business.

When you order from a big name online site - say - by the time you hit "submit" it's already charged your card, printed a packing slip and the robots in back are packing your box. When you order from me? Um, no.

What happens is this: you place an order - clicking all the right buttons and typing in all the information. The site sends you a confirmation which is totally doodie. The site sends me an email with all the order info. Then I process the order here on my end. I do all the math. I type out an invoice. I pack the goods and box it up and ship it off.

The confirmation is doodie, like I said, because it pretends it's all already done and gives you an invoice amount. But it has no idea what the real invoice amount is, because the shopping cart flunked math class. It can't calculate sales tax (which is a Washington state thing, but don't get me started on that.) It can't calculate the shipping charges, because I do the shipping according to a flat rate chart, not by actual weight of each item. There's a long explanation for why I do that, but basically it's for simplicity so that folks who want to send a check to order can still do that. And the shopping cart also can't calculate the volume discounts, or coupon discounts or anything else I advertise to give you guys a price break.

So the web site confirms nothing, but confuses everyone. The invoice is for goods only, but not at the discount price. I've yelled at them a lot. But it doesn't do any good.

Most of you dear hearts have ordered from me before and get all this. But some are new, or didn't figure it out at first. And I have had to explain, and explain and explain it - they get their confirmation and don't see the discount, or think I've cheated myself of taxes or whatever. It's frustrating.

Not because I hate to do it, but because I shouldn't have to. The goal is to make this as easy as possible for you all. I WANT more new customers, and I don't want them to think I've got a little backwoods operation over here that isn't up to snuff.

So I've discussed this endlessly with smarter web folks. I've added special instructions, simple, and with color, and with bullet points -- to all the main pages. I've tried different ways. I added text to the ordering process to explain it. I've added links from other places to a whole explanation page. I guess I'm still not quite getting the message across.

It's clearly a work in progress. Maybe I need to change the site to another server that works better. Oh, the headache that would be.

There are all kinds of web pages out there - from single page business card styles, to the full-blown Amazon and everything in between. I'm clearly in that "in-between" thingie. And it looks like it should do it all - I mean it looks good, doesn't it? So I'm working on getting it right - by either explaining it better up front - which is super hard because all the studies say that people only read a few quick words, less than 20% of the text on any given web page. Or by finding a new way to work this whole online shop. We'll get there together. But it may take a bit more time. I've only got so many minutes in the day.

And today, I'm still answering a bunch of questions. Please! don't read this and think I don't want to explain it again if you don't get it. I do. And I will. I'm not kidding. My biggest wish is for this to be easy peasy for you to order from me. Not confusing. So I'll chat with anyone for however long it takes to get it straight. Just give me a jingle or shoot me a quick email. Really.

Oh, one more thing. I realized just this morning that the comment/special instruction box was suddenly missing on every single item page. Seems like a simple thing, right? Just one click or something to turn it back on. No. It took me over an hour to retype/paste the text into every single item page to get it back. They don't know what happened. I realized it after I got a couple of calls yesterday, in which people said they couldn't find a place to type in a message. Yikes. Could it have happened on a better week? Just a few days after the newsletter goes out and the whole world is looking at my site? It's sort of like walking out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to your shoe. I'm embarrassed, and sorry for the confusion on that front too. I caught it today and it's fixed now. Again, argh.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

U District This Weekend

Here's the scoop for this weekend - and the weather is supposed to be dry and sorta kinda partly sunny. Or something like that. At least it's not supposed to rain. And if it would just warm up from this cold breezy stuff we've had this week, I'd be happy. I was insane, or maybe just a little tipsy on sunshine when I over-zealously planted planted basil and peppers a couple of weeks ago in that hot first weekend of May. Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking either. I've lived here long enough to know better. They are freezing and sad, and probably replaced in June.

I digress. Back to this weekend. It's U District Street Fair weekend. This is the kick-off event for the festival season in Seattle -- the first arts and crafts fair of Spring. It's an exciting celebration of arts and crafts, community, music and food attracting over 50,000 people and showcasing over 400 artists.

Dates: May 16 and 17
Hours: Saturday 10am-7pm and Sunday 10am-6pm
Location: University Avenue in the U district
Booth Location: Booth #315. A large corner spot on University Way, between 42nd and 43rd streets, but pretty close to the corner of 42nd. Higher up the street than I've been the last 2 years. Which is good. No great. Away from that crazy "Spin the Wheel" game, but probably smack dab in front of the hollering retaurant wars for $1 food on a stick. Oh well, it's all good.

For more information: U District Street Fair

I'm hoping to have it all - spring stuff, summer stuff, the new shea butter balm, oodles of vintage tin flower pots and watering cans for gift sets, pretty bags, the antique style berry baskets, all the accessories, etc.

That means I have to make a million or more lip balms tomorrow.

BTW, thanks to all of you who rushed in orders already, like the day after the mailing went out. It's lovely that you're so excited about the new stuff. Really lovely. And it's been a very tight spring, so every order is especially appreciated.

Here's a couple shots of my girls helping me garden. They too are cold and sad now. Huddling back in their blankies instead of basking in the hot sun on the patio.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Summer Newsletter 2009

Yo - just cross posting the new summer newsletter here in case you're not on the mailing list. The website has been updated too - links are here.

Dear Friends,

The seasons don't read the business section. The sprouts and petals have no clue about the economy. Daisies aren’t worried about the swine flu. Summer shows up no matter what the stock market says, reminding us that life is to be enjoyed and worries need a vacation too.

When summer rolls around, my cozy little house feels a bit too small and closed in. I spend more time in my “outdoor” rooms – the patio and garden, where I can feel the warm sun on my face, listen to the birds twitter and bees buzz, sniff the rich earth and fragrant blossoms, Everything just feels better outside – meals taste better from the grill, lemonade sweeter on the deck with friends. An entire happy memory can be conjured up with one summer word – like picnic, ballpark, hammock, sailboat, beach, cabin, camp. I’ll have more of that please.

Life is short. Toes need air and the squish of fresh grass between them. Summer feels divine Dive in.


In a tribute to summer’s joys, I’ve created some special soaps and bath goodies to reflect the tastes of the moment. These unique soaps are available only for the summer season and are made in limited production. ($4.00 ea or 4 for $15.00)

PEPPERMINT GRAPEFRUIT: Cool and tingly mint, with the energizing pop of pink grapefruit and sweet orange. Colored with a pinch of tomato powder, it’s a luscious cantaloupe color. (100% natural ingredients)

SEASIDE COTTAGE: Throw open the windows of your little beachfront cottage and let the sea spray kiss your face. This is a light, refreshing and captivating scent – ocean breezes mingling with fresh air. This scent is so fresh and clean, you’ll want to linger in the shower all day. It’s a gorgeous pale aquamarine color. (99% natural, fragrance oil)

LEMON ZEST: Bright lemon and bergamot, with a zesty sprinkle of spice and mint. I swear this is the scent of happiness and sunshine. Great fun in the shower, charming in the kitchen, and if you can bear to part with it for a guest bathroom – expect it to go missing when they leave. (100% natural ingredients)


The “Suds for a Brighter Day” sets, which I introduced this spring, are little packages of 4 mini soaps,
roughly half the size of my standard bars, 2x2 inches square, and weigh 1.5 ounces each. Half of the proceeds for these new packages will go directly to Kiva, the world's first person-to-person micro-lending organization, empowering individuals to lend directly to struggling entrepreneurs in the developing world. Tiny little loans of $25 go towards goals of several hundred or a thousand dollars, whatever is needed for a small business owner in a developing nation to get the help they need to make their business sustainable. I’ve already been able to make a couple of loans, and am looking forward to a prosperous partnership, with continued sales of these charming little soaps.

The first set of soaps, and still available, are fruity scents: Apricot Peach, Berry Delight, Grapefruit Splash, Pink Posy. In addition, for summer I’ve added a set of new flavors, a little more earthy: Rose Geranium, Cucumber, Juniper Sage, and Black Tea. ($10 each, 4 mini soaps in a jute gift bag).


I’ve retired the Foot Balm to make room for a new, more sumptuous moisturizing balm – for feet, hands, elbows and all over.

This new balm recipe includes 25% Nilotica Shea Butter and 25% Virgin Coconut Cream Oil, both 100% organic and super luscious. Nilotica Shea Butter comes from Northern Uganda, rather than West Africa, It is far superior in texture, nutritive value and aroma, plus it’s creamier and softer too. Nilotica shea butter is a highly nourishing ingredient that is remarkably effective in healing dry and cracked skin, eczema, psoriasis and sun damaged skin. And it is a noteworthy anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and easing muscular aches and pains. The Virgin Coconut Cream Oil is obtained from freshly harvested coconut meat that has been grated and then expeller pressed to produce the coconut milk. It is a light, creamy and penetrating oil, which is anti-fungal and has a high Vitamin E content too.

The recipe also contains Sweet Almond Oil, which is beneficial for eczema, psoriasis and itchy, dry and inflamed skin conditions, plus it’s rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and E.; and pure 100% natural, beeswax. It’s unscented, but has a lovely, warm, buttery aroma, Bottom line: this new moisturizing balm is the perfect thing for dry skin anywhere, from lips to heels. (2 oz tin, $5.00)

The Healing Salve is still a great option for gardening hands, or cracked feet, conditions in which the healing power of herbs can be put to good use. A wonderful moisturizer as well, the Healing Salve has a bevy of herbs infused in it, which lend antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, to speed up healing of cuts, scrapes, burns, cracked skin – anything which needs both moisturizing and a shot of nature’s miracles. ( 2 oz tin, $5.00)


I get so excited each year to pop up my tent and start another season of street fairs and festivals because I get a chance to meet and talk to all of you. For more details on my summer schedule, including booth locations, check out the CALENDAR section on the website,

Let’s all scream for ice cream!

Heidi Risse

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This week's events

I've got a couple of different sales events happening this week - hope you get a chance to stop by and pick up a little something for Mom. Or better yet - bring her along!


The shop is back for Mother's Day. I mean, of course, my little retail space at Group Health on Capitol Hill. I'm open this week Wednesday through Friday.

I am "renting" their little retail space on Capitol Hill -- a portion of all of my sales goes to the Patient Needs Fund, a part of the Volunteer Services Dept, which buys supplies and necessities for patients there.

Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (May 6-8) 9:30am-4:00pm

Location: Group Health central campus, Seattle
Address: 108 - 15th Ave E, Capitol Hill, half a block south and across the street from the big Safeway store at the corner of John St.

I've got all kinds of Mother's Day and spring celebration gifts!


Artisan's Gallery is a fusion of art works and fine crafts that is held twice a year to showcase the work of Seattle-area artists. The home gallery concept was created by five core artists (Exclusive Threads) who have grown the event to include their works and those of additional guest artists. The sale is held each spring and December at artisan Mollie Reeve's lovely home in the Wedgwood neighborhood. The addition of guest artists brings an element of uniqueness to each event, as there is always a different collection of artists and mediums represented. This spring we are featuring a garden theme and are pleased to Judy Zugish of Bouquet Banque Nursery join us with a wonderful selection of her plants.

Dates: Saturday and Sunday, May 9 and 10

Hours: 10am to 5pm

Location: Mollie Reeves home, 7525 - 41st Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98115

Link: Exclusive Threads