Friday, August 30, 2013

The Washington State Fair

Hey, next week is the start of the Fair.  Starting Friday, it's non-stop fun and food and rides and concerts for a whole two weeks / three weekends.  And I'll be there right in the middle of it.  I will not be standing in the hours-long line at the fried twinkie booth.  But I'll be working our little artists shop in the grandstand - selling soap and stuff.

Advert blurb: "(Formerly called "The Puyallup Fair") Coming up in early September, the Washington State Fair is the largest single attraction held annually in the state of Washington. The Fair continually ranks in the top ten largest fairs in the world."

There is so much to do, I can't possibly explain it all - rides, food, animals, food, exhibits, elephant ears, shopping, fried food, concerts, Krusty Pups.  More info on it all the Fair website.

Held at the Fair & Events Center in downtown Puyallup.  I guess they re-named this too, but it's the same Puyallup Fairgrounds that it's always been.

Hours: Mon - Thurs 10am-10pm, Fri 10am-11pm, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-10pm

Opening Day opens at 9am, get in for free before noon with canned food donation.  See other deals and discounts here.

Soapworks Studio is located in the Artists in Action building, on the ground floor of the Grandstand, near the Fischer Scone booth.  We're like a little store within the fair, with a central cashier for all of us.  Non-stop artist demos too.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kale injury

I have to admit something. I hate kale. I know it's the absolute rage right now. And that there is probably not a single other more nutritious item on the planet. But it's bitter and tough and pretty much nothing makes it better. I've tried.

But in my never-ending quest to be healthy, I cooked up a batch of greens the other day. It was kale mixed with chard, spinach and arugula (which I also dislike, but not as much). Sauteed with a bit of garlic.
AS IF! Pic courtesy of

While cooking, I carelessly tried to taste a piece of kale. Check for flavor and doneness. But it slipped and slapped me in the lip, burning me. Gah. What a rookie move! And how dare that crappy kale try to slap me?!

Actually it tasted pretty good - better than I was expecting anyway. But I'm left with a blister on my bottom lip that is totally irritating and unsightly today. Which is the least of my worries.

We have been having plumbing problems. Like every other older house in Seattle, there are tree roots growing into the sewer line. And I share it with two other neighbors. One of which is a rental property with new managers (which have been wonderful, how refreshing!). So coordinating the whole clean-out has been very time-consuming, while we wait on pins and needles to see if everybody's toilet decides to back up into my basement studio sink in the morning when the whole world is showering and flushing. It's in process now, and while I really have to pee at the moment, I can't use the water, but I'm hopeful that later today I might get to do laundry which has also been waiting for days.

And yesterday there was such a flurry of chaos and craziness when the neighbors house got broken into. Two Chinese families (or groups? or what?) live there.  One apartment in the basement and the other one upstairs. Somebody came in through a window in the back and took all their computers and cash.  Which is a lot.  Like 10 people upstairs and another 5 downstairs?  I might be exaggerating by one or two, but no more than that.  It's a ton of people, almost all younger guys with a few older adults that don't really seem like couples or parents.  I can't figure it out.

The burglars broke down doors inside to get to the basement too and took everybody's stuff during a little one hour window in the afternoon.  I was home then.  I was here just having lunch at that time, hanging out with the cats and doing a little work. All windows open.  Back door open.  Obviously home. But not hearing or seeing anything unusual.

I felt terrible.  It's also a rental house. The owners were there too. So much screaming and waving and carrying on. All of it in Chinese so I have no idea what they were saying. Fire truck. Police. But Jenny (the owner) explained a little to me and I told her how sorry I was, and bummed that I was no help. Everyone they knew came over during the afternoon and evening to hang out in the front, back, side, living room, dining room, porch. Just crowds of people all yelling and gesticulating. Like an angry beehive.

It was sad and yet odd. Knowing what they must be feeling. And yet not knowing anything about the details or what they were saying or anything else about the whole event. Eventually I had to turn on the tv just to get a break from all the noise, distract myself from the buzzing beehive.

This morning I heard that another neighbor just on the other side of the block had the same thing happen, during that same hour. So somebody was very busy at lunch time yesterday. So frustrated that I was right here and missed it! I mean missed seeing something I could share. Not missed getting robbed, obviously.

Things are in a bit of upheaval around here - it all feels out of whack. I'm in 'nose-to-the-grindstone' mode trying to get everything done for the Fair next week. Which reminds me - I need to do a post about that any second. And the autumn newsletter was supposed to go the printer yesterday afternoon, but with all the hoopla in the works, I didn't want to leave the house.

The fall newsletter, new products, updated website, blah-de-blah needs to all get done between now and next week too.  It's Thursday.  I just ran out of labels for the backs of the soaps yesterday. Another totally stupid rookie mistake that I can't believe happened right now.  And shipping from Florida.  On a holiday weekend. That's another hinkie in the system.

High drama. Suspense. Action. Thriller. Will she make it on time?!

Yes. I can tell you the ending. It all works out and everything will be fine. But I'll be hiding out over here working feverishly. Never mind me. Just running as fast as my little legs will take me around that damn hamster wheel :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Made in America

Each seasonal newsletter, I use a different postage stamp for those who are getting it via snail mail.

Yes, it's totally old school. I put little address labels on envelopes by hand. And stick little postage stamps on each envelope by hand. And then stuff and glue them all up. Again, by myself. By hand.

Which is why I'd love to have more people transfer over to the electronic version. So much easier to just hit "send" and everyone gets it immediately. No loss of trees either.  But I get it - it's nice to have a little something new in your real mail box -- that's not bills. And to have something in your hand to read. Plus a paper calendar thingie that you can stick on your fridge to remind you of the show you want to catch me at. All that is valid. Just saying . . if you want to transfer over to email instead, click here. Fill out the form and request email only instead of snail mail or both.

The email version is the same as the snail mail one as far as content. I even include the images, poems and calendar. You don't miss a thing :)

However . . . that was a side-track. What I meant to post about today was the actual postage stamps. This time around, for the fall newsletter going out in a couple of weeks, there was a pretty lame selection of postage stamps to choose from. I like to pick colors that work with the season, or themes - obviously holiday.

This time I thought about doing those super sweet seed packets from the last mailing. But after all these years I've never repeated a stamp and it seemed wrong to start now. Plus the seed packet time is totally over for fall, so it didn't work anyway.

Here's what we got then, "Made in America: Building A Nation."

The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes,” social activist Helen Keller wrote in 1908, “but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” The Made in America: Building a Nation Forever® stamps honor the courageous workers who helped build our country.

The theme is great.  It fits with my whole thing. And I'm making all this stuff in America, by Jove. Course it's not quite the industrial manufacturing that are depicted in these images. It's a little softer, cozier and quaint in my factory.

Plus, black and white goes along just fine with a fall color palette and the brown envelopes. So that's it then. Now I just need to get started with all that 'licking and sticking.' Gross, right? Just so you know, I don't lick the envelopes. I use a glue stick. Way faster and a lot less paper cuts.

Also, as long as I'm discussing all my old-schooliness . . . I know that it's proper typing etiquette to only put one space after a period. But I learned to type on actual typewriters and we had to use two spaces.  HAD TO use two spaces after period. It's really hard to unlearn the auto-pilot muscle mechanics. And half the time I have to go back and un-space almost an entire post after I've written it. Because the spacing comes out weird in the final version, and often doesn't wind around the paragraph or inserted image correctly.

So yes.  Basically I'm still a lot of old-school myself.  Because I'm getting old. And I totally get why people want to receive my letters in the actual mail by mail carriers in their blue uniforms. When I started my business, that was the only it could happen anyway - yep we're talking the way back machine. I've been doing this a long time.  Maybe too long? By next year we'll not even need soap anymore or something. We'll clean ourselves virtually, or by some kind of electronic steam blast unit that takes no energy or water and leaves us completely germ-free and wrinkle-free. Yes?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Anise Soap is back!

I've been making Anise (or licorice) scented soap since the very beginning.  It's not the most popular scent in the line-up.  It definitely has its fans, however.  And they get cranky when it's out of stock.

For the past couple of years, it's been probably more of a seasonal scent than a regular one.  I make tons of it for the Puyallup . . . erm, Washington State Fair.  There are so many fisherman in that area and I always sell bazillions of bars in September.  Probably stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts too. 

I keep it stocked through the holiday season, and sometimes into early spring.  I usually do not make it during the peak summer months or take it to the summer shows, just because I can only bring so many scents to any one venue before it becomes absolute overload.  

Anyway, I started making my batches for September and they are ready now and back on the web site for ordering.  Ding. ding. ding.  Come and get it all you anise fans!

Sweet black licorice scent. A favorite of fishermen, as anise not only masks the scent of human hands, it actually attracts fish. Considered by many to be an aphrodisiac as well.

Ingredients: Saponified oils of olive, coconut, palm, organic shea butter, anise essential oil.
This is a 100% natural soap!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Who Said Can't?

Just a little Monday inspiration for your week ahead :)

Seems like when I get to this part of August, when we're trying to squeeze in the last little bits of summer fun and family vacations before school starts, all sorts of new ideas start percolating for fall.  New activities, new projects, new things to try.  Like once summer ends, it's a clean slate to start all fresh and new.  The lazy days are over and I'm ready to get busy and start working on stuff.

Does that happen to you too?  Or are you so caught up in school shopping and appointments and running around to think about what's ahead?

I'm kinda itching to get started on trying something brand new and different.  Just haven't figured out what yet, or how far outside of my comfort zone.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Soap Love 2

A few months ago, I shared my first "Soap Love" post.  When I need inspiration or ideas or just want to brainstorm new scent, packaging, or whatnot ideas, I do a little internet trolling for other soapmakers - just to see what's out there and what's new and it usually jumpstarts the whole creative process for me.

Plus it's just plain fun, because obviously, I love soap.  In all it's forms. I'm constantly amazed at what other people are doing with their handmade soap.

Elsje Vermunt

Here's the latest batch of really cool soap that I just loved.

Soap sticks.  Soap in long, skinny soap stick shapes that might be good for travel?  Seems like it might be harder to use, but I like the look of it.

Doesn't everyone want to have a dish of gorgeous candy soaps in their bathrooms?

Licorice allsorts soaps

Or a bar of chocolate soap that you just want to bite into?

via Pinterest

And as always, I'm smitten with any and every variation of soap on a rope.  I don't know why.  I think they are hard to use too.  There aren't a lot of places to hang them in a shower, so they are going to always be wet and shrinking away too fast.  But they are so darn sweet. Dozens of heart-shaped soaps on strings . .

Elsje Vermunt

Slivers of soaps, like little hang tags, on rustic ropes.  So adorable.

Savons de Provence au marché de Cassis via Pinterest

These have special biodegradable packaging, with flower seeds embedded in the soap for new beginnings.

via Soapisbeautiful
Sweet little disc shaped soaps all tied up with twine.
via Linen and Lavender
I think I've literally looked at hundreds of soap pictures in the last day or two. Just because once you find a great Pinterest page, you get lost, following all the other great pages down the rabbit hole.  Fingers cramped, eyes bleary, you look up and it's hours later.  Zoinks.

So I'm percolating ideas now for Christmas sets and scents. It's already that time.  Fall is in the rearview.  It's always completely weird to be working so far out of the actual seasons.  And I know that designers and retailers and magazine publishers etc are way, way ahead of me.  But I never get used to it.  The summer sun is shining and everything is summer, summer, summer.  And I'm trying to conjure up winter snowflakes and Santa's workshop.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's been a perfect summer

The weather we've had in Seattle this summer has been so perfect. I know some people are booing about how dry it is, and it has been a little hard on the garden and the grass. But the plants will (mostly) live and everything will flourish once again in a month or so when the rains really get going again.

In the meantime, we've had really nice, warm, sunny days. Clear blue skies. Not too hot - hardly ever over 80. Cooler evenings so that it's not muggy and everyone sleeps like a baby. Day after day.  We wake up to sunshine, instead of clouds until mid-afternoon. I like this. I could really get used to this - for more than just a couple of months.

I've sort of given up a bit on all that watering too. Yes, still watering the tomatoes and the flowering baskets. But the perennials, the bushes, the ferns in the corners? I don't care so much. Just enough water, maybe once a week or whatnot just to keep them alive. The brown, crispy bits?  They'll be fine in the fall, and come back just as nicely next spring. The grass too. And the dandelions seem to be thriving anyway. The neighbors have a whole field of them instead of a front lawn. And they are not a bit bothered without rain.

I've had a week of relatively light work, a bit of rest after all the summer shows finished, and a bit of time to stop and smell the . . . well smell everything. Sunny afternoons on the patio, a quick break to see the cats lounging in the shade spots. Grilling with friends. A walk on the beach plus a stop to watch all the volleyball competitions. It's good. It's more than good. It's perfect.

How's the summer been for you? Let me know how yours is going.

Monday, August 05, 2013

The Watering Cans Are Back!

Just a quick note this morning while I unpack and clean up from the overwhelming Anacortes Arts Festival weekend . . .

It was a great show by the way. Even though it rained (and sometimes hard!) almost the entire day on Friday. What a mess. But by late afternoon it dried out. And we dried out. And kept going. Turned out ok, but I'm really tired today. I'm needing silence and not a lot of activity for a bit.

But the announcement:  Ta dah! They're back!

My sweet little watering cans that I made the Gardener's Gift Sets out of have been out of stock almost all summer.  They were supposed to arrive in May, then it was mid-June, then early July.  Well, they just arrived by the slow boat last week.

I have them back in stock in my studio, and now that all my shows are over for the summer (gah!) I can make those ever popular watering can sets. You can fill them with whatever you like - choose scents or products that you like most. This is one variety, which I put together to cover a gardener friend.  It's got the garden gloves, soap, spray, shea butter balm or healing salve, and nail brush ($28).  You can go smaller, like just a washcloth and soap bar for $14. Feel free to customize - just give me a holler.

Anyway, they are back.  Back on the website, back in the studio, and I'll have them for the fall shows I guess. Probably nobody will care by then since gardener season is over. Poo. Oh well.  Spring will be here before you know it, right?

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Flash Sale - Body Brushes

Yep, these are the very same brushes that we've been blabbing about all last week on the blog for dry skin brushing. (Part 1, Part 2)

I want everyone who's even sitting on the fence about it to have no excuses to not give it a try. So I'm putting both styles of body brush on sale for the entire month of August - 10% off the regular price.

As I mentioned before, the $8 price tag is super darn cheap because when you are not getting these puppies wet, they last for years.  But now that they are only $7.20?!!  You just can't find them anywhere for cheaper!

They are on sale for the whole month, with the offer ending at midnight, August 31st.  No promo code, no extra steps to buying them cheap, cheap, cheap.  I've just put the sale price on each item on the site.  All you have to do is drop it in your shopping cart and away we go.

The detachable head brush, pictured above is the softer of the two, best for newbies.  

The massaging brush feels great too - but I might mention here that I especially love this one as a back scratcher too.  Those moments when I just can't get that spot right in the center of my back?  I know you know what I'm talking about.  It starts to itch but then you reach around and can only get the edge, so you try to go up over your shoulder and again, just reach the very edge of it, and then in agony, you twist your arm like a pretzel from around the bottom, and again, not quite there.  What happens, is that the damn itch starts to move around, like a little game of tease.  But when you can just grab this super wide round brush with squishy massaging nobbies on it - you can get the whole back from top to bottom, side to side in one motion.  And oh it feels so sweet.

Erm.  Small digression.

But actually it's not too far off topic.  Because brushing your dry skin with a beautiful soft brush will begin to get your skin back to healthy and radiant instead of dry and itchy.  You won't actually have (as much) of that kind of thing going on (especially if you're using my super moisturizing soap too - shameless plug).  Unless of course there are all the other every day things, like irritating clothing tags, lousy bra straps, mosquito bites and whatnot.