Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Not Yet Spring

(For photo credits and to see my other photo sets, visit me on Flickr)

It's that barren and brown time of year, when spring hasn't quite sprung.  I'm so anxious for spring to arrive with warmer weather and things that actually grow in the garden.  Staring out my window at the blah dirt, empty branches, and grey skies is so very, very boring.

But as antsy as I am to get out there and do stuff, this incubating time has been wonderful.  I've been planning, creating, dreaming and building for the year.  Some things are in the works, some things are just in the imagination process.  Good things are on their way.  In the garden, in the business, and in life.  

I feel like I've got so many things I want to create and bring into the world this year.  There seems to be more energy and more ideas just flowing and floating around.  My hope is that I don't get overwhelmed by it all and just poop out, falling back into the comfortable tried and true.  

Maybe there really has been a shift.  Are you feeling it too?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The February Bee

The February Bee

The bumblebee crept out on the stone steps.
No Roses. Nothing to gather.
Nothing but itself, the cold air,
and the spring light.
It rubbed its legs together
as if it wished to start a fire
and wear its warmth.
Under its smart yellow bands
the black body shone like patent leather.
It groomed itself, like a pilot
ready for takeoff and yet not ready:
when my shadow fell over him
he flicked his wings, checking them,
and took off into the bare garden.

- Nancy Willard, from The Sea at Truro

Sunday, February 24, 2013

And the Oscar goes to . . .

I don't currently have customer reviews posted on the website, but I hear from folks all the time about what they love the most about Soapworks Studio products. Here's what people are saying about their most coveted items:

Lights, Camera, Action!

Best Soap:  Vanilla Bean & Honey  
Van Bean

"I am your biggest fan in Mount Vernon and Anacortes, and at the last show I purchased a scent I hadn't bought before - the Vanilla Bean and Honey soap.  I initially bought it because the smell was HEAVENLY to me, but then I brought it home and used it.... OH MY GOODNESS!!  I have THE WORST SKIN, adult acne and hard core t-zone oily spots and this soap has cleared me up!  Over the years, I've spent THOUSANDS on skin care / acne clearing soaps, from Clinique to Demalogica to Wexler and Proactiv... you name it, I've tried it.  NOTHING has cleared my skin like the Vanilla and Honey soap."

Best Natural Soap:  Lavender & Lemongrass
"This year our managers gave us bars of your soap for our holiday gift.  BEST GIFT EVER!  I'm a vegan so before I took soap I went to your sight and was delighted to see that your soap is vegan!  I enjoy the feel of my skin after using your soap and the smell is delicious (without setting off my allergies like perfume soaps do)."

Best Aromatic Spray:  French Lavender
"I just tried your French Lavender spray for the first time and it's wonderful!  The fragrance stayed on my sheets and pillow cases and I sleep like a baby.  This is the best lavender spray I have ever tried.  I had gotten some recently when visiting the San Juan Islands at a lavender farm and it wasn't nearly as good as yours.  Keep up the good work!"

Best Bath:  Dead Sea Bath Salts

"I just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying the Dead Sea Salts!  I have never enjoyed taking a bath so much - and I do enjoy my baths!  It makes the water so silky and nicely fragrant.  My skin feels incredibly soft too.  These are the best bath salts in the world!"

Best Customer Service:  Always
"After years of buying from your wonderful product line, I just made my first online order - I'd like to compliment you on your INCREDIBLE service!  I've never received an order so expeditiously and/or  securely packed!!  THANK YOU SO MUCH!  What a class act!"

"Wow! I can't believe this package arrived in Niagara Falls today. Talk about speedy!"

"I just wanted to say that I've been ordering from you for YEARS and LOVE your stuff!"

"I just had to tell you how pleased and thrilled I was to receive my soaps from you yesterday.  I love that it was such a fast turn around from placing the order to receiving the soaps.  But the big deal is how much I love the soaps.  I intended them for Christmas gifts, but somehow I think I'm going to have to place another order because I want to keep them all for myself. I love the fragrances--especially the lavender pear.  I will be a repeat customer over and over again.  Great product, great service!"

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Flower and Garden Show

This week is the Northwest Flower and Garden show at the Convention Center.  I don't usually go to this show but I love gardening and all things plants, so I was excited to see it this year.

My friend, Dianne Kimball, makes pottery and garden art.  She is doing the show this year for the first time, and I went down for a couple of days to help her out and give her a break since the hours are so long for one person to work a booth themselves.  With a free pass, I had the chance to mosey around and see the sights too.  What a treat!

I always think the display gardens are way too dark.  There's so little light in that area that you can hardly read the little plant signs, or see what's planted towards the back.  And it's impossible to take a good picture.  Maybe that's why they do it?  So people don't take photos and copy all their designs?  I don't know.  It's "mood" lighting and very dramatic, but not so great for actually seeing up close what is in there.

One of them had a very cool hobbit house, but Megan Black was filming a promo in the middle of it when I was there, and I couldn't get close enough to get a pic or see the whole thing.  Never could get over there when there wasn't a herd of people planted in front of it.

But here's a few pics of other cool gardens, mostly the displays in the very well lighted glass walkway between buildings:

I'm so excited to plant stuff in my own garden now.  I already had big plans to move stuff around and do new things.  I haven't really done a lot with it lately except maintenance, but this year is going to be different.  Big ideas.  If only it would get warmer and spring would arrive.  The cold, grey drizzle here is getting so very old.

I had to move a few things around last week.  Crappy story - the water line from the city sidewalk to our house cracked and had been leaking (rather pouring) down the sidewalk for the last few weeks.  We had problems with that water before and both times it wasn't our water, but the neighbors.  So we assumed it wasn't us again this time.  But alas, it was.  We had to put in a whole new water line.  Which required removing part of our rockery wall, and huge holes dug in all over the front yard.  Plus it cost a ridiculous amount of money too.  Ugh.  More than ugh.

When they finished and piled all the dirt back, I found a lot of broken stuff, and had to move a couple of big heathers - just trying to get things back together for now.  But I've got pictures in my head about what I'd like to do this spring.  I'm dying to have one of those gorgeous little rustic salvaged sheds built out back.  Probably don't have enough space.  For sure there will be more beds to grow food.  My lettuces were too small in pots.  I need a few more herbs.   All kinds of moving around to freshen it up and get the tired perennials better spots and better shape.  Plus color.  Lots more color.  Year round color.  Can't wait.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bluebird of Happiness

Today was show application day. I did a few last month when the early deadlines came up. But today was a big huge pile of all the other ones, basically my entire spring and summer season. Now I can chirp happily for the rest of the week, like the little birds which are twittering and dive-bombing the bushes outside for the last of the winter berries.

The birds seem so happy out there lately. Maybe it's the intoxicating berries. I heard somewhere that late in the season the berries have begun to ferment, and when the birds ingest them, it's like getting drunk on wine. They get a little loopy and wild - which explains why they seem to hit the glass windows every now and then.

I'm feeling a little like that myself, not that I'm going to slam into a window, but just a bit giddy for finally getting that long and tedious chore off my to-do list. Every single one needs a different type of application form, some online, some paper. Some need a check for jury fees, others need copies of licenses or whatnot. All of them need photos, but each one in a different size or format or named in some special way. It's tiresome, long and a headache at best. It's a necessary part of the process, and I do rather like to be in the shows.  But I've just been procrastinating on the application process. Or was. Until today. It's done. DONE!

And in a few short weeks or possibly a month, I'll know how it turns out and have my schedule all lined up. There is only Best of the Northwest next month, Tulip Festival in April and U District in May which I have totally confirmed at this point.

Do you put off the stuff you don't want to do too? Or are you one of those that does the crappy stuff first and gets it out of the way in order to spend more time on the fun stuff. Sigh. I wish I was the latter. Instead, I spend more time fretting and fussing over the yucky stuff, pushing it around my desk and moving it back day after day on the calendar until I can't stand it any more. Probably not the best method.

Maybe while I'm on a roll I should tackle the next big thing I'm resisting and get it taken care of.  Hmmm.  That would be an overload of productivity.  Maybe too much.  Nah, I'll do that tomorrow :)

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Spring 2013 Newsletter

I'm publishing my Spring 2013 newsletter here for any of you who might not be on my email or snail mail lists.  I wouldn't want you to miss a thing :)  And to keep things simple, click this LINK to take you to my Seasonal page on the website where everything discussed below is listed in one place.  

January is a month of hibernation and rest for me.  Probably for everyone else too.  It's the bleakest month of winter when the outdoors is least inviting and we're all pooped out from the holiday-ing.

Soon enough along comes lovey-dovey February with all its hearts and flowers.  And slowly, every so slowly, a sunray breaks through the grey clouds, a light begins to shine and new life starts up all over.  Tiny little twittering birds gently wake us from our slumbering silence.  The promise of a new day, a new season, a new year whispers quietly in the tiny pink buds sprouting from branches. Spring creeps in on tiny mouse toes, but when it finally arrives, it brings a warmth and joy so powerful that memories are made in an instant.


To celebrate spring -the season of love, flowers, and new beginnings - I’ve created some new takes on some very traditional European soap fragrances.  For me, spring scents are inherently light in a palette of green, fresh and flowery.  After months of dead leaves and naked trees, the hint of blossoms in the breeze is a breath of fresh air. ($ 4.25 each or 4 bars for $ 16.00)

Lilac Garden:  One of the first scents of spring, lilac blossoms are both powerful and fleeting, stunning in their beauty and symbolic of innocence and purity.  This is an absolutely true and perfect lilac scent - a just-picked bouquet straight from the garden in a pretty purple bar.

Orange Blossom:  A classic and pretty Spanish orange blossom fragrance with a squeeze of sweet orange for a bit more citrus brightness.  Lovely and timeless, this is a very traditional European soap, a soft floral scent in a peach tinted bar.

Gardenia:  A lush, gorgeous, elegant and nostalgic flower, gardenia is said to be the blossom of love.  This is a vintage perfume and another classic French soap scent which has stood the test of time.  Notes of aloe vera and green leaf blend with a beautiful gardenia floral, for a very fresh, very light version in an ivory white bar.

Lemon Verbena:  Lemon verbena is one of the most loved classic soap scents, from Yardley's of London to modern Mrs Meyers.  This soap features bright lemon and bergamot citrus with dreamy lemon blossoms - a very soft and pleasant lemon, uplifting and sweet.


Turn up the volume on your romance dial - try the Lilac Garden aromatic spray for spring.  A companion to our seasonal soap, Lilac Garden is incredibly true, a lush and fragrant floral mist to brighten up the winter doldrums.  This fragrance makes a lovely sprintzer for everything imaginable - delightful as a body spray, a great deodorizer for linens, rooms, closets, cars, plus a fabulous pick-me-up anywhere, any time. ($6.00 each)


During the last month I've had all my remaining fall and winter holiday seasonal soaps, sprays, bath salts, plus lip balms at big discounts on the web site.  There are still deals left and it's a great time to stock up on your favorites.  Check it out at

It's still early in the scheduling of shows for 2013.  Deadlines are in the works with notifications and contracts to be determined in the next couple of months.  But here are a few that are on the calendar right now.  Check the website any time ("Show Schedule" button) for all the latest information.

March 23 - 24
Best of the Northwest - Spring Show
Smith Cove Cruise Ship Terminal, Pier 91
Magnolia neighborhood, Seattle
Saturday and Sunday 10am - 6pm

April 19 - 21
Tulip Festival Street Fair
Downtown Mount Vernon
Fri and Sat 10 am - 6pm, Sun 10am - 5pm

May 18 - 19
University District Street Fair
University Street, U Dist, Seattle
Sat 10 - 7, Sun 10 - 6

Come on everybody, let's do the happy spring dance!