Friday, August 14, 2009

Random Bits

Somehow life got too busy for the blog. Almost a week after I finished the Anacortes show, I'm finally able to breathe again. In a few small spots I can even see the surface of my desk.

So here's what's new. Anacortes turned out to be a fairly good show. Even though I lost my corner space at the last minute and had an invisible spot in front of an empty bakery storefront, facing the giant double Costco-sized booth of some other guy's soap (argh!), I did ok. Pretty much the same as the last couple of years, so that's a ginormous achievement given the way all my other summer sales went.

Now it's on to fall. The fall newsletter, the fall soap production, the fall updates on the web site. All things fall. It even feels like fall. The chilly days of grey and rain, the leaves dropping everywhere, the summer plants that have all yellowed out and turned to crisp. I know we've got sunshine and summer for a few more weeks, starting tomorrow I guess. But right now, it's back to sweatshirts and pumpkin spice smells.

Soaps gone bad: I think I've found the problem that has been shortening the shelf-life of my soaps the past few months. Earlier this year I had changed the brand of one of my base oils. Turns out it was a slight variation of what I had been using in the past, and when I calculated out the recipe, it was not quite right. I've changed back to the old brand and there should be no more problems with the soaps I am making now. Tried to cut costs a little and it didn't work out - it backfired. I'm so frustrated.

The bottom line is this: any soaps that you may have gotten from me during the last 5 months or so do not have the same shelf life of the soaps you've grown accustomed to. If you haven't used them already, get them out pretty quickly. Some are fine, some are turning a little slimy or getting tiny orange spots. If it's already turned, do not panic. The soap itself is still good and usable, although not as attractive. But if you'd like to exchange it for a new bar, please feel free to call, email or contact me and I'll cheerfully replace it. If it's a seasonal one that is out of stock, then we'll do something else you like. But it's important to me that you don't just get disgusted and stop ordering - it was a temporary mistake that I've fixed and will not happen in the future. Anything not quite right up to this point, I'll replace at no charge.

I'll have to do a little blurb about all this in the fall mailing, but if you've been reading along here, I'm posting it early so that you can check your bars and use them up now instead of putting them in deep storage for winter or later. They won't last much longer. And again, if they're gone - I'll replace the bad ones.

Canning: hoo boy is it canning season. The tomatoes are constant, so we've tried oven drying. That doesn't work so good for cherry tomatoes. We made sauce and froze it. We've pickled. Bread and butter pickles with cukes this time. Twice. I've done strawberry and raspberry jam. And the plum tree just turned. Solid Ground/City Fruit are going to harvest over the weekend, to bring the hundred of pounds of plums to local food banks - plus a school organization that is going to dry them for lunch programs and snacks. BTW, if you've got a fruit tree in your yard that you'd like to have harvested and donated, go to and get on the list. Even if it's for next year. They are a new group and just starting lists so that next year they can coordinate neighborhoods and harvest times better. Super great people.

NW Art Alliance (Best of the Northwest shows) finally hired a new executive director. Pamela Rembold, who was the interim director during the summer, is the new head honcho. She's wonderful, and very committed to building the organization, with a new focus on marketing our shows. Everyone else on staff previously has left. So it's all new, quite hopeful and freshly invigorated. We are still doing the fall show at Seattle Center - probably spread out between the Exhibition Hall and the Northwest Rooms like last year, which wasn't ideal but already committed to for this year. Except this time we might actually have some advertising.

The Puyallup Fair is right around the corner too - starts Sept.11. So I'm getting busy on plans for that too. I want to bring some lip balms again, but in a different kind of combo package. New styles of baskets for gift sets. Maybe a few different salts or spray flavors just for the fair. The past few years have given me a good idea of what that bunch of folks likes - and high on the list is vanilla and patchouli. So I want to make sure I've that all that and more. And the fishermen want the anise soap. Check.

I'm done with summer shows and summer stuff. I'm moving on to fall. Hoping to finally get around to doing another round of clearance stuff on the sale section and send something to the email list, which hasn't happened in months either.

And lastly: Bill Morris, the elegant, gentleman, calm in a sea of chaos - it was such a pleasure to work along side you for so many years. You'll be deeply missed. RIP.