Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm Featured on Etsy's Storque Today

Check it out! My Rosemary Mint Heel Butter is one of the featured products for their Etsy Finds: Spa Day article. I am thrilled! I just wish I'd had a heads up, because I may have lost some sales due to only listing a quantity of 1 most of the time. But I fixed that now and hope I sell all of them today. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

All Over But the Shouting

We had a lovely, quiet Christmas. Just the way I like it. I did get some wonderful gifts from my DH, including two of those ceramic-coated cast iron Dutch Ovens, bright orange, in the 3.5 and 5.5 quart sizes. Plus a set of Cuisinart pots and pans with the clear glass lids. Everything is so shiny and beautiful and professional looking. My DH went crazy in Sam's Club when he saw all those things I'd been drooling over while watching my cooking shows.

I've already started using my new toys to cook with! Before I started watching the Food Network I used to muddle along with the cheap, ancient pots and pans I've had since my 20's, and various hand-me-downs. It really is a pleasure to cook with beautiful, effective tools, just the right one for whatever you're making. I'm a happy woman. Not quite the Barefoot Contessa or Giada yet, but I'm getting there...

So now we're down to our last week with Vicky at home. The time has gone by so quickly, for us and for her. It's going to be hard on everyone when she has to pack all her stuff up again and go back to Tampa. Fortunately she can drive home every other weekend or so in a couple of hours.

I'm totally burned out on packaging and shipping orders. Even on a relatively modest scale, things were very hectic. I'm out of almost all my soaps, or nearly out of them. In a few days or a week or so, I'll have to start replenishing my stock and trying a few new fragrances, including Winter Solstice and Hunter's Moon.

The pressure of getting orders out reminded me once again about how important it is, when you run a small business, to know what you want from it. It is easy to feel compelled to take on a big wholesale order or something like that, especially if the person flatters you about how nice your soaps are, etc. Also easy to feel the pressure to make more money.

Early on, I decided I didn't want to do wholesale. I know it's a great option for many soapmakers, but it's not what I want. For example, someone who buys my stuff keeps urging me to "get it into stores." It is incomprehensible for them to understand that I don't want to work that hard, and success isn't always measured in making more and more money.

I'm retired and at that age when killing myself to make a little extra dough isn't that appealing. I like having the freedom to blow it all off and take a walk on the beach, or take a nap or just forget about it all for a few days. I need more time than the average person to just sit and stare into space, I always have needed that. I like keeping the "small" in my small business.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Almost Christmas Eve

I've been terrible about keeping up with this blog. To the few who still come by regularly, my apologies. Things have just gotten away from me. I have been so busy making and selling soap, Geoff is in the process of applying to colleges, and Vicky is home from USF for the break. It's been very busy, hectic, fun and stressful, all at once.

We decided on a relatively lean Christmas this year, nothing too extravagant. One big present for each kid and the rest is little stuff. Many people in our family are hurting, financially and with illness. While there's always much to be grateful for, there is also a lot to worry about too.

The other night I put up our fake Christmas tree. I've resisted liking it, even though it's very pretty, for two years now. But I'm finally to the point where I can't justify spending $80 on a real tree, only to throw it away a few weeks later. Not particularly "green," is it? So I dragged out all the old ornaments I've been collecting for years and put them on the tree, especially the ones the kids have made over the years. The tree is stunning and magical now!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I'm going to make homemade lasagne and bread, and buy some really good cannolis for dessert. I'd love to make gnocchi, but the kids won't eat it, so I'll save the gnocchi for New Year's Eve, for me and Lowell.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas with your family and friends.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all my friends in the US who celebrate Thanksgiving are having a wonderful and relaxing day with their loved ones and plenty of good food. I felt blessed today because our small family was joined by DH's middle daughter and her little girl, my son's GF and my daughter's BF. I love to cook, especially for an appreciative audience.

I worked like a madwoman for hours this morning and turned everything out, hot and delicious and ready all at the same time! We had turkey, the most amazing stuffing with apples, sausage and dried cranberries, homemade cranberry orange sauce, my sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and, of course, a beautiful 12 lb. turkey. Not two mention two pumpkin pies. Now we're all stuffed and sleepy. Stop me before I eat again.

I belong to the (Earthpath Artistans Street Team) and want to let everyone know that EAST's 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Event is happening now. Running from Nov. 28th through Dec. 15th, EAST members are celebrating the season with special sales promotions and crafting unique new items! Search Etsy using the WWEE tag to find participating items.

Now it's going to be exciting to see what happens to sales on Etsy and my domain shop on Black Friday. I'm considering offering a lip balm with every sale tomorrow, as long as I can stay awake long enough to make a bunch of them tonight just for that purpose.

Monday, November 17, 2008

1,000 Etsy Sales!

I've finally reached over 1,000 sales on Etsy, yay me! Actually, I'm up to 1,012 now. Thanks to the amazing Kay Ann, Soap Princess Extraordinaire for helping me to achieve this milestone, and to all the other awesome buyers on Etsy!

Vicky was home this weekend and it was so good to have her here. I got up super early this morning to make her a good, hot breakfast. She left at 6:30 and called by 9:00 to say she was already back on campus. It seems so weird that she can be all the way up there in a couple hours. Her evil roommate from hell had not moved out, a real disappointment. But she is finally gone, thank goodness. It is really hard for me to feel charitable toward someone who made my kid's life as miserable as she could. I hope they put her in a room by herself. I wouldn't wish that particular roommate on anyone else's child.

My DH got a new computer yesterday. I spent all day fiddling with it and getting online programs back, restoring files from Carbonite, etc. But the computer refused to recognize the bleeping DVD drive. We fussed with this for hours, doing diagnostics, etc. Finally we gave up and went back to Best Buy and they figured it out. They had to open the case and connect the DVD drive cables, which were inexplicably unfastened.

I gotta get busy and make mountains of soap again. I'm starting to run out of a lot of stuff.

Friday, November 14, 2008

FP of Handmade Fusion

Today my shop made the front page of Handmade Fusion!



I have a new soap in my Etsy shop, Zanzibar Clove -- delicious!

I'm getting pretty stoked about this -- I'm now at 997 sales on Etsy! Only 3 more sales and I'll finally hit 1,000 sales.

Vicky is home for the weekend. It makes me so happy to see her little feet on the couch arm rest, and to see her puttering around back and forth from her room to the laundry room. I just miss her so much. Her Evil Flying Monkey of a roommate is moving out this weekend, cause for celebration for all of us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Fellow Neopolitan...

has featured my Lemon Verbena soap in her blog, Gifts Etc. and Skin Candy! I didn't even know so many sellers on Etsy are also from Naples. Thanks Katie!

Today I added Lavender Vanilla handmade soap to my shop. This soap smells so divine, I adore it.



If you like Lavender and Vanilla together too, check out my Lavender Vanilla Gift Set -- one each of handmade soap, Shea and Cocoa Butter Lotion Bar and Lip Balm. Yummy!

Next weekend Vicky is coming home for the weekend. We still miss her so much. It hardly seems possible that her first semester will be over in about a month. And today I helped Geoff to fill out his first couple of college applications online. We're going to have empty nest syndrome really big time next year.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post Election Calm

Thankfully the election is over. For the first time in 8 years, I'm filled with hope that our country can find its way out of the economic, political and international turmoil it's been in for so long.

I was featured in a cool blog today, Expressions by Devin. Go check it out! Devin was kind enough to feature my Soap Sampler. Over on Etsy, I'm closing in on 1,000 sales. I really love selling on Etsy.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Treasury

Yay, my Night Blooming Jasmine soap is in a treasury, right here.



Twenty years ago on Halloween it was a snowy, bitter cold day at Virginia Tech. The most horrifying thing about the day was defending my doctoral dissertation. There isn't a ghost or ghoul around that's any scarier than that!

Vicky is coming home again this weekend. We're very happy!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New A/C

Wouldn't you know it? After our central air conditioner died last week, we spent a very toasty weekend sweating our tushies off until the new one could be installed. So yesterday we got our new a/c, to the tune of nearly $6,000. And guess what? This morning it was a "frosty" 50 degrees here, our first really cool weather of the fall. I've been in a sweatshirt all day!

I'm in a treasury over on Etsy today. Go here to give it some love!



Today I realized I have something like 38 different kinds of soap in my shop. That's waaaay too many. I have to start reigning in the variety. I got a lot of new stuff for the holidays, like Gingersnap and Pumpkin Spice and Cranberry Orange Marmalade. Plus I couldn't pass up Bay Rum, Bayberry Spice and Tanzanian Clove (to die for). Fragrance oil descriptions are my undoing. I want them all.

We got our early votes in. Every time I go by the library, there's a long line, hundreds of people, showing up to vote early. The papers say there's never been so many early voters in our county. Today I was proud to walk Vicky through the mailing in of her first real vote, her absentee ballot for the presidential race. Geoff's turn next year!

I have to make a big batch of lip balm tonight. I've got some new butters to try out and pretty lip balm tubes with aqua caps that look so nice with my sea sprite labels.

I'm crocheting a special goodie for my auntie, who lives in England now. It's turning out so pretty. I wish I could show you but she might read this, so I can't. But I think she'll love it. It's purple.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Visiting USF

We drove up to USF in Tampa this past weekend to visit Vicky. Geoff wanted to see the campus because he's thinking of applying there too. We hauled up a mini-fridge that fits under Vicky's bed. She's so happy to be able to keep milk and cereal in her room now, and can have cold water and tea in there. Even with a meal plan, sometimes it's hard for her to find something she likes to eat, or to get there before they close. This way she has some stuff she can eat right in her room. Her roommate has a small microwave, so they're all set.

It made me happy to see her room all decorated and neat and tidy. Here's some photos I took of her and Geoff.





We're pretty excited and keeping the phone line free tonight. My husband's granddaughter is in the hospital having her first baby. I can't wait to meet little Sofia Victoria!

I have a couple of new soaps in my shop including Bay Rum and Gingersnap. They smell divine. :D

Friday, October 10, 2008

Plumberry Spice Soap

All my fall soapmaking efforts are finally showing up in my shop. My new one today is Plumberry Spice, and it smells unbelievably spicy and sweet and wonderful!



Vicky is coming home from USF this afternoon to spend the weekend. I am so excited! She says she misses home cooking so much, so I'm going to be knocking myself out to make things she likes a lot. Tonight: Baked ziti with homemade bread, and tomorrow I'm making meat loaf and real mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Autumn Leaves Handmade Soap

My pretty "fall leaves" confetti soap, Autumn Leaves, is finally ready to go! I can't even describe how wonderful this fragrance is, a combination of Oranges, Cloves, Cinammon and other warm, hearty spices. It's also available here in my Etsy shop.



I can hardly believe it, but it's already time for my son, Geoff, to begin applying to colleges. I want to get him to USF (next weekend), UCF and FGCU for sure. He has a Bright Futures scholarship that will pay 75% of his tuition to any Florida public college, so we'd prefer for him to stay in the state. He isn't in a big rush to get out of here, thankfully.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Iced Gingerbread Handmade Soap

Mmmm...just added to my shop, Iced Gingerbread handmade soap! Smells like spicy, warm gingerbread cookies with creamy icing! This smells so good and has the richest, creamiest lather. It's also available here, in my Sea Sprite Soaps shop. :D


Monday, October 6, 2008

Cranberry Orange Marmalade Soap

New in my shop today, Cranberry Orange Marmalade handmade soap. I know this is immodest, but it smells so freaking good, it's unbelievable! In the US, you can buy one now right here, price includes shipping.






If you've ever wanted to learn how to make cold process soap, but are concerned about where to get the ingredients and good instructions, I'm happy to say that Essential Herbal is going to have an online class that includes the ingredients you need to make a 2 lb. batch of handmade soap. I subscribe to their magazine, The Essential Herbal, and it's a fantastic read.

I'm going to have a custom soap stamp made soon. I have to come up with a simple, evocative design that has enough lines in it to make a good strong impression, but not too many lines that makes it impossible to see what it is. I'm thinking a nice mermaid's tail with flowing lines would be good for my Sea Sprite Soaps.

I'm getting pretty excited about the impending birth of my husband's granddaughter's new baby, due the end of this month. Her name will be Sofia Victoria, which we think is such a beautiful name! I love it that her middle name is the same as our daughter's name. Ah, babies. They remind us that life goes on and all of the promise life holds for us.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sugared Walnut Soap

I don't know why I stopped making Sugared Walnut last winter, but I just figured it had its season and that season was over. I'm really happy I made some more because I think this soap smells fantastic! You can't go wrong with this sweet and woodsy blend of Blood Orange, Asian Mandarin, Brown Sugar, Roasted Walnut, Hazelnut Coffee, Black Anise Seed, Patchouli and Madagascar Vanilla.



Our Vicky hasn't been home now for almost two weeks. I find myself really longing for her. It is what you do as a parent, you try to raise your children to be strong and independent. What a shock it turns out to be that it works! I feel kind of like I lost my job. It's a bittersweet feeling, being successful at helping your children learn to function without you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Unbelievable

I'm online a lot during the day, checking my orders. In addition to soap, I sell digital products, including some really cute fairy clip art in PSD format that I email to buyers. Earlier this evening I took an hour to eat dinner and watch CNN. Get back online to check my email and find that at 5:13 pm someone bought some of my fairy clip art and paid via PayPal. So far, so good.

The next email I opened, time stamped 5:33 pm, or a brisk 20 minutes later, is a notification from PayPal that the buyer has filed a Non-Receipt of Goods Dispute and my funds had been frozen. I couldn't believe it. My PayPal funds frozen over a 20 minute delay?

Now I am normally a great believer that the customer is always right. I believe in damaged shipments and things that never arrive, even though I've got a delivery confirmation that says it did arrive. I know how things work in real life. Packages get damaged or get lost, and I always replace it. But this buyer opened a dispute over $5.99 within 20 minutes. That is just unbelievable to me. I mean, I once waited 3 weeks to receive a freaking lip balm!

OK, I went to PayPal and communicated with the buyer. I specified the timeline of 20 measly minutes between payment and filing a dispute, stated that I found that kind of behavior astonishing, made a full refund -- and instructed this individual to never buy anything from me ever again. Problem solved.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ginger Orange Handmade Soap

I've got one of my new fall soaps in my shop now, Ginger Orange, and Arabian Spice is back in stock now too.

I spent some time today re-working my Etsy banner. I hadn't opened Poser in a while and it was fun losing myself in some renders. Here's the new look (you have to click to see it full size):



I made my first sale in my HandmadeFuzion shop!

Trimming our dogs' nails is such a horrible experience. They hate it and writhe around and act like we're killing them. Lowell bought a dremel-type thing that has a burr on it to kind of sand down the nails. On TV all the dogs look so calm and happy getting their nails done. Ours acted like they'd been goosed when we tried it.

We are now reverting to our training as behaviorists and gradually exposing them to the evil nail trimmer. The ole desensitization trick. We've been gently rubbing it on their backs and legs first without turning it on, then tried it with the buzzing thing going. They are still very skeptical about it. I guess they should watch more TV to learn how to act.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

HandmadeFuzion

I've been working hard on setting up my newest shop at HandmadeFuzion. It's a juried site, so I'm hoping that selectivity will be an advantage for the sellers.

Vicky was home for a few days and it was so much fun having her here. Now she has gone back to school. The house is less bright and cheerful without her, that's for sure. Tomorrow is her 19th birthday. We celebrated early by going out to Da Ru Ma, her favorite Japanese restaurant, this weekend. It will be a little sad not to be with her on her actual birthday. It's the first one we haven't all celebrated together.

I've been soaping many fall and holiday-ish fragrances this past week. Coming soon: Pumpkin Spice, Cranberry Orange Marmalade and Iced Gingerbread. Also soon: More Arabian Spice and Celtic Moonspice. Man, all these brown soaps. I wish the spicy ones would come out a bit lighter in color!

I recently had my first true soaping disaster. I poured 5.5 oz of Lemon Verbena fragrance into a double plastic cup so it would be pre-measured to add to the soap. So here I am with 8 lbs. of yellow soap, pick up the plastic cup with the fragrance, and it all pours out onto the counter top and floor. It ate right through the bottom of the cups. You wouldn't believe the mess you can make with a little over half a cup of fragrance oil. I had to run and find another scent to go with yellow soap, grabbed some Honeysuckle, mixed it in and realized that I'd tracked the spilled oil onto the Pergo floor.

Meanwhile the dog is coughing, my husband with asthma is wheezing from the stench, and I'm trying to clean up a greasy, stinking, oily mess. You can't just wipe it up, it has to be washed with a grease cutting cleanser in hot water. Geoff comes home and says "Wow, what are you making, lemon bars? I can smell it all the way out in the driveway!" It ended up taking me almost an hour to clean up all of it, even the bits that seeped into the little crack where the stove joins the counter.

This stuff melted the bottom of my Crocs! Note to self: Never, ever again measure fragrance oil into a plastic cup. It's what we psychologists like to call a One Trial Learning Experience. From now on when I smell lemon, I'll probably go into Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Playing in Poser

I found some wonderful new morphs for the little 3D dollie, Sadie, so I had to get them. Is this the cutest little face or what? This makes me want to make a little texture and character package for her. :)



My son is 18 today. It's kind of a shock to realize. He's not a little boy anymore. 18 years ago I was still waddling around trying to get myself into labor to avoid a C-section, but no such luck. This kid is one of the joys of my life. I am so lucky to have had him and his sister. I'm so glad I did not miss out on being a parent.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Another Weekend Already

Our Geoffrey turns 18 tomorrow! I can hardly believe it. My "baby" is now 6'3" and looks like a grown man. Which he is, officially. He doesn't want to go out on his birthday, he wants this particular soup I make and my homemade bread, and one of my homemade chocolate cakes to celebrate. I am only too pleased to know that he'd like my vegetable soup more than going out to a fancy-schmancy restaurant!

Vicky is going to UCF in Orlando for a football game this weekend. She's meeting new kids (mostly boys, ha ha) and her social life is starting to pick up after the first two lonely weeks of not knowing anyone in Tampa. Every day she calls raving about how much she enjoyed this class or that, learning new things about art and math and sociology. All the things I wish I'd been able to do, going to college and living in a dorm, she is doing. I was an older commuter student when I finally got around to going to college. It's such a pleasure to experience, vicariously, this college student life through her young eyes and experiences.

Lately I've been working on the perfect lip balm formulation. Or as nearly perfect as I can get it. I have a very nice one I've been using for a while, but want to make something a little firmer and heat-resistant to melting, that still has a nice glide. I've got a couple of great customers who are going to test them for me and give me their honest opinions.

Today a new Whole Foods market opened in Naples. I was astonished at how wonderful it is, how big and how practically everyone seemed to be there for the grand opening! I found something I have been trying to find locally for years, but never could -- Explorateur cheese. It smells like the bottom of a diaper pail but is absolutely ambrosial, the best cheese I ever had. It brings back memories of a romantic time when DH and I were first dating and we found this lovely cheese exploring Charleston, SC. Is it like that for others, I wonder? Every treasured or favorite food seems to have a back story for me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Crocheted Baby Dress

My DH's oldest granddaughter is having a baby girl in November. I'm already crocheting for this little girl we all can't wait to meet! I made her a little dress out of Patons Grace, a really lovely lightweight thread. I'm making some ballet slipper type booties and a headband to match too.

What really makes me nostalgic is that I have a photo of myself holding the baby-to-be's mom right after she was born, wearing a little sweater I crocheted for her. And now I'm making things for her baby. It gives me a lump in my throat. Here's the little dress.



Our Vicky was home for the Labor Day weekend. It was so nice having her here, and so hard to watch her drive off again last night. I suppose I will get used to it eventually, but right now it's very hard.

Geoffrey will be 18 in a few days. Last night we took him to get his main birthday present, a brand new laptop. It's really gorgeous and has more RAM and hard drive space than my desktop, which I had custom made only 2 years ago (and paid twice as much for)! He is delirious with this new computer because he's been using a pre-Cambrian laptop we bought 6 years ago and it's as slow as molasses. Now I just have to buy him a few more little things to celebrate his big day.

I've started back trying to exercise hard at least 3 times a week. I've got a walking at home DVD with Leslie Sansone and it's very invigorating. I look like a sweaty, red-faced baboon when I'm done but it's definitely a good workout. I just wish she wouldn't talk and laugh (!) all the way through it. I don't care what she says, it's not fun. Uh uh.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Empty Nest

Well, the nest isn't quite empty, but close. Last week we took Vicky to USF and got her settled in her dorm. Her roommate wasn't arriving for a few more days, so it was hard to just leave her there in this monastic little cell of a room all by herself, where she doesn't know anyone. We have had some teary phone calls and minor financial crises, but things are starting to sort themselves out.

She's got a meal plan so we know she's not going to starve. Even though all the kids profess to hate the meal plan food, every time we talk to her she's telling us about some yummy thing she just had for lunch or dinner. I miss her so much sometimes my head hurts. She's coming home for the Labor Day weekend tomorrow night. Yay!

I've added a bunch of new soaps to my Etsy shop, including Cedar and Saffron, Lavender Amber Sonnet, Night Blooming Jasmine and Dragon's Blood. I've also added back my hand crocheted Bath Pouffs, which are really nice and create mounds of rich lather no matter what soap or body wash you use with them.

I got this link from a soaping forum today and if you love ballet and incredible feats of gymnastics as much as I do, check out this Chinese dance troup in Swan Lake -- unbelievable!

More time-wasting fun links: Cake Wrecks and Engrish Funny.

Ever since the Olympics are over, I feel like I got drunk on TV and had a hangover. I had to prohibit myself from watching TV for a few days. That Michael Phelps, wow! I got such a kick out of watching his mom watch him swim. :D

In the last couple of weeks I've made the most darling little crocheted baby dress in green and pink Patons "Grace" yarn. My husband's granddaughter, Summer Joy, is expecting her first baby in November. Now I'm working on a blanket, very soft with a rainbow of pastel colors. I love making baby clothes!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Irish Mocha Soap

Today I added Irish Mocha handmade soap to my Etsy shop. It smells Mmmmmmm...

My Watermelon Herb Granita handmade soap is in a Watermelon treasury today, here. Go give it some love, if you've got time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Arabian Spice Soap

Today I added Arabian Spice Handmade Cold Process Soap to my shop on Etsy. It smells soooo good! :)



Yesterday Vicky and I went to the movies together. I was flattered that she asked me to go with her. We went to see "Step Brothers" with Will Ferrell. OMG was that funny -- filthy, crude, juvenile and hysterical!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

New Stuff

I heard from an old friend the other day that I haven't seen in almost 30 years. It's so great when old friends get in touch! Kathy and I used to work in the same office at the UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Now her kids are all grown up and mine are ready for college. It just doesn't seem possible that time goes by as fast as it does!

Last night our air conditioner stopped working. In South Florida, this means a crisis. It was over 90 degrees in here today. Lowell was able to find a repairman who came out on a Sunday morning to fix it. You don't even want to know how much it cost. We are probably going to have to get the whole a/c system replaced in the very near future. Right now, I'm just thankful to be cool again.

It's hard to believe but I grew up without air conditioning, right in hot and muggy Miami. I can remember sleeping on terrazzo floors in front of giant box fans just to try to cool off. I didn't have a place with a/c until I was in my 20's. But I can't live without it now. Nope.

The last couple of days I worked on crocheting a new bag for Vicky, who is crazy about red, green and yellow Rasta colors. I lined it with some very groovy Laurel Burch fabric, a bright tie dye with little animals sketched out in black. This is the best thing I've ever crocheted, I think. I should've taken a photo. She shrieked and gave me a big hug, so I think it was a success. I'm going to try to get a picture tomorrow.

I'm trying to think if I've added anything to my shop lately. Hmmm. My newest soaps are Fine Young Cannabis (a Cannabis Rose duplicate) and Ahoy Matey (incredibly expensive but a divine ocean scent). I've been soaping like crazy to get caught up on replenishing my inventory, plus adding new soaps. Coming soon: Arabian Spice, Irish Mocha, Polar Express, Lilac, Cedar and Saffron and Dragonsblood.

My favorite new time-waster: Fail Blog. OMG. I could laugh myself into a coma.

We learned a few weeks ago that the beds in the dorms at USF are an odd size, so regular sheets won't fit them. Fortunately there is a handy little company that makes sheets for this custom size, and they sent us a brochure. The other day a huge box arrived filled with sheet sets, comforter, pillows, foam egg crate pad, towels, portable shower kit, under the bed storage, pop up hamper, and hanging clothing and shoe organizer thingies. I think Vicky is going to be all set in the linen department. I still have to find a lock for her laptop, so it doesn't get stolen. According to the orientation we went to, laptops and bikes are the two most frequently stolen things from dorms.

I cannot believe that in less than a month she will be at college. I'm so not ready for it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

EAST Gypsy Challenge

I've added some new flower lip balms to my shop on Etsy -- Honeysuckle and Jasmine. Go check them out!

The EarthPath Artisans Street Team (EAST) is having a Gypsy Design Challenge! Team members have taken their interpretation of what the word "Gypsy" conjures up for them, and created new pieces in a variety of media.

The purpose of this challenge is not to win prizes or compete with each other; rather, it's a way to build team camaraderie and inspire us to explore new themes and stretch our creative muscles. And for the winner, it means a little extra attention from an adoring public! Winners will be posted on the blog and on Etsy.

So stop by the EAST Challenge page on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/groups/earthpathchallenge
to see pictures of the entries, and then go vote at the EAST blog
http://earthpathartisans.blogspot.com
You can also see many of the entries in the members' shops by visiting the team shop's favorite items page.
http://earthpathartisans.etsy.com

I won't tell you who I voted for, but I'm a sucker for florid colors and mysterious little pouches. :D

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Etsy Anniversary to Me

Today is my one year anniversary of opening a shop on Etsy. I had planned to do something memorable, maybe a sale or the like, but like John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you are busy making plans."

I did add a new Herb Garden soap today, made with flecks of dried herbs and calendula petals. I'm going to package it with a Gardener's Balm and herbal lip balm soon. Also back in stock is my Calabrian Violet and Bergamot soap.

The kids were all busy with their own stuff today, work and friends. More and more it's just Lowell and I at home. You can tell when we're bored. We watch a lot of Food Network and true crime shows, in between doing yoga and gardening. Warming up for Empty Nest Syndrome.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Catching Up Again

Well, it's pretty bad when my visitors have to remind me to post, eh? I've just been swamped lately with family and work stuff. I've added Plumeria handmade soap back into my Etsy shop, plus some new soaps: Celtic Moonspice, Lemon Verbena, Cuppa Chai, Sandalwood Patchouli and Vanilla Amber. I've got even more fragrances to soap (Stella, Kerala Spice Amber) and have got to reign in my fragrance oil jones. It's a sad thing when you know your VISA number, expiration date and security code by heart.

Coming soon from the curing rack -- Herb Garden, Watermelon Herb Granita, Cannabis Rose (seriously!), Love Spell and Beer Soap made from Samuel Adams Cream Stout. Yeah, it was hard to sacrifice a bottle of the Sam Adams for soaping, but this soap is so fantastic, lots of lather and the sweet smell of hops with a titch of bay rum for the boys!

My son, Geoff, has been studying martial arts since he was 5 and has two black belts already in USA Karate and Aikido. For the past year he's been taking Brazilian jiu jitsu from instructors who have studied with the Gracie family, the ones who started this particularly effective school of jiu jitsu. Here is Geoff in his new gi, trying to look superbaaaad.




Only 6 more weeks or so until our Vicky goes off to USF. She's busy working every day and out partying every night. We barely see her anymore but she's under our roof to sleep, do laundry and eat (occasionally). It's going to be so hard when she goes off to college. I don't know how I'm going to stand it. Thankfully, it's only a 2-1/2 hour drive up there.

I've been trying to post more in the Etsy forums to make my presence known there. Lots and lots of people are selling B&B products! I have seen so many people jumping on the soapmaking bandwagon and just selling the first batches of soap ever, not testing it or perfecting their craft. People who want to make salves and make outrageous healing claims who haven't even ordered their supplies yet. People selling hot process soap the day after they make it, instead of letting it harden up and dry out.

It gives me the willies to think of the risks some of these imprudent newbies present to buyers and to themselves, in terms of liability. There's folks selling jewelry or potholders who suddenly want to add powerful essential oils to M&P soap and sell it as dog or cat shampoo, who have no idea how bad tea tree oil can be for cats, especially. People who think grapeseed extract is a "natural preservative" and they don't need to put a real preservative in hydrous products. People who don't list all the ingredients in their products and who clearly don't even know what's in the stuff they're selling.

It honestly scares the crap out of me. It reduces the credibility of real soapmakers if they sell inferior junk that melts in the soap dish in 2 days or burns the hell out of someone's skin because they didn't get their lye calculation right or someone's cat has a seizure from licking itself after being bathed with the nice free cat shampoo bar they received with their earrings.

Listen, it's not about competition. I don't care about competition. I'm not trying to put Dial out of business. I want to make and sell a certain amount of soap, I'm not killing myself. But what I'm seeing more and more is carelessness and greed, an underestimation of the amount of experience and skill it takes to make good, safe soap and other body products. It's making me want to be snarky in my forum posts and often I have to bite my tongue.

Yeah, making soap isn't rocket science, but it takes a good long while to get it right enough that you'd charge someone else for it. I made soap for over a year, several times a week, before I sold any of mine. I have a soaping journal I've kept from day one in 2000, in which I record every batch I've made, the ingredients, how the soap reacted to the fragrance, any acceleration or discoloration or other problems, etc. I'm on Volume 2 now, hundreds and hundreds of pages of documentation I can refer back to if needed. I've thrown a lot of soap away because it clearly wasn't good enough. I didn't rebatch it and stick it up on Etsy the next day.

I guess everyone who takes their craft seriously is offended by people who don't. I wish there was a guild system in place where new soapmakers had to be mentored or serve as apprentices for a certain period of time before being allowed to sell their products. That's not going to happen though. In the meantime, my best advice to anyone who wants to make soap or other B&B products is to go to the Soap Dish forum and start reading from page one. Learn and absorb. Get honest feedback. Be humble. And don't sell crap you just made yesterday for the first time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Absinthe Treasury

I was thrilled today to find my Absinthe soap in an Absinthe Treasury -- take a look at all the wonderful handmade things!

We are back from new student orientation at USF. Lots of walking tours in the broiling hot sun, sitting in hard stadium chairs and endless PowerPoint presentations. The kids were separated from us parents right away and spent the night in dorms. I didn't read the pamphlet that said to bring bed linens for the dorms, so I spent a frantic lunch hour driving around Tampa until I found a K-Mart where I got a sleeping bag, pillow and towel for Vicky.

I don't know that the orientation really needed to be two days long, but I certainly learned a lot about the university. They put a lot of time and effort into the presentations. I just wish they spent a little more time on presenting academic aspects, and a little less time on athletics, "involvement" in the more than 500 clubs and activities and weekend party buses to Ybor City.

I'm so happy we're home now. I love to get away and see new things, but within a day or so I miss my routines at home and familiar belongings.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Off to Tampa

I'll be gone 6/16-6/17 because I'm taking my daughter to Tampa for the USF new student orientation. Apparently this is a big deal, the kids see advisors and register for their courses, learn about where they get their meals and stay the night in a dorm. Parents are in a parallel program and don't stay with the kids. Somehow I anticipate a lot of walking in the next two days. This thing starts at 8 am tomorrow. I was going to drive up starting at 5 am, but now I'm wondering if we ought to go tonight instead. I'd still be up driving late though. Argh. I don't do well without sleep anymore. It should be exciting, though.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Graduation Photo

Here's a photo of my baby girl receiving her high school diploma. :)



I've been a soapin' fool lately, trying to keep my inventory up and trying new soap fragrances. I've added Sea Sprite Beach Confetti (shown below) and Lilac to my shops recently.



I just soaped a new fragrance, Celtic Moonspice, which presents an interesting soap swirl challenge. The main soap will turn brown eventually as it cures because of its vanilla content. So I held out some of the soap and tinted it with white pearl mica and swirled that in, but you can't see what's going on with the swirl because the whole mass of soap is white while you're doing it. Thus, it's a "blind" swirl. Now that it's been sitting for a couple of days, it's darkening and the light swirl is holding up. It looks pretty, very delicate and feathery. I wish all my swirls turned out that well!

Today I need to make some more Cuppa Chai soap. It's one of those fragrances that you just can't use in CP (cold process) soapmaking because it turns my soap batter into instant "soap on a stick" when you pour it in. Goes from fluid to solid in a heartbeat. This is a fabulous fragrance that I adore and that sells well, but one I have to make in the crockpot via HP (hot process), then the fragrance gets added after the cook results in saponification. I used to make all of my soaps this way, but I find I really do like the fineness and semi-translucence of CP soap more. Still there's something to be said for the slightly lumpier, more rustic look of HP soaps. Well hell, I just love soap period. I'm addicted.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

English Language Fun

Did you ever know someone who left rude notes for everyone else to find, like a snotty roommate or the lunch room martinet? If so, you'll love Passive Aggressive Notes. And to round out your reading pleasure, blogs about the abuse of apostrophes and quotation marks. I would like to see someone do something on random capitalization too, like those sites with random words capitalized and you think you might be reading Elizabethan English until you suss out the content.

The past week was a soaping blur. I have almost caught up on all the soaps that were low or completely gone. Today I added White Peach, Vanilla Latte and Cioccalata e Arance back to the shop.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Graduation

I admit it, I've been scarce the last few weeks. Things have been hectic around here, and finally on Friday evening our daughter, Vicky, graduated from high school. It was more moving than I'd thought it would be, to see the kids all walk up to the front of the auditorium to receive their diplomas. There were 491 seniors graduating, so many that it took almost two hours to read their names, briskly, and get them all up to the podium to walk across the stage.

Now we will all relax for a week or so, then gird our loins to get her ready for college. She'll be going to USF, in Tampa, in the fall. We have new student orientation next month, decisions to make about dormitory or off-campus housing, meal plans and just how it's all going to work. I'm already starting to feel the pangs of empty nest syndrome. I can't imagine what it will be like to know she's not living in our house anymore.

Next year Geoffrey will be a senior and we'll get to go through this all over again. It's one of those bittersweet times in parenting.

While I've been distracted with graduation, I've sold lots and lots of soap and now I'm either low or completely out of some kinds. I'm going to be soaping like a maniac in the next week or so to catch up.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Absinthe Handmade Soap

First, to all the moms out there, Happy Mother's Day! I had a wonderful, relaxing day. My family took me out for a late lunch, then I read a while, watched "Ace of Cakes" and took a snooze. My kind of day!

I just added Absinthe Handmade Soap to my shop. It smells divinely decadent, strongly of anise and touches of wormwood and other herbs in the background.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flower Lip Balms

I've always loved those violet pastille candies, the kind you can only find in specialty stores like A Southern Season. I thought it would be fun to develop a lip balm that tastes like violets, and was so happy to find a supplier who makes high quality flower flavor oils for premium chocolates. My order arrived the other day, so I'm pleased to tell you that I've added Violet Lip Balm to my Etsy shop.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Natural Shampoo

Finally, my Natural Shampoo is in my Etsy shop! I have been working on this idea for a long time, researching the best ingredients and essential oil fragrances. This is a lovely, gentle shampoo with 3 fresh, clean herbal fragrance choices: Herb Garden, Earth Basil and Lavender Sweet Orange. I was so happy with the little "stars" that appeared in this photo of the shampoo.



I thought these were pretty funny, and thought I'd share. :)

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Be here now.

Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?

Accept misfortune as a blessing.
Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without
Problems.
What would you talk about?

There is no escaping karma.
In a previous life,
You never called,
You never wrote,
You never visited.
And whose fault was that?

Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkis.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud.
Let your stillness be as a wooded glen.
And sit up straight.
You'll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.

Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers.
Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.
Each blossom has ten thousand petals.
You might want to see a specialist.

Be aware of your body.
Be aware of your perceptions.
Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Two Yummy New Lip Balms

My new Virgin Coconut Lip Balm and Pina Colada Lip Balm are sooo yummy! They are loaded with Virgin Coconut Oil, which retains the rich coco-nutty smell and taste, plus lots of luxury cocoa butter, shea butter and mango butter. I've sweetened them naturally with Stevia, an herb that gives the lip balms a lovely touch of sweetness.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Senior Prom

Here's a photo of my baby girl, attending the Senior Prom tonight. I can hardly believe she's this grown up now, all of 18 and ready to go to college in the fall.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Marigold Mint Handmade Soap

I wanted to have a garden-ish look to photos of my newest soap, Marigold Mint. I found inspiration in the drugstore checkout line, a small package of marigold seeds. They are starring in some of the soap photos. I think this one turned out pretty good!



I recently ordered a small, folding lightbox so I can take photos indoors and on gloomy days. Or when I don't want a lot of distracting scenery in the background. I can't wait til it gets here so I can try it out.

I had to get up early this morning and have some labwork done. I found out a few days ago that my blood pressure is too high and I need to address that. So it's back to Weight Watchers and doing yoga regularly, and I've started taking a very low dose of blood pressure medication. I really hate to take it, but it's to the point where it would be irresponsible not to. I'm hoping with enough weight loss I can get off the medication. I'm not sure what to expect from it, but so far, at least, I don't feel much different.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Pot That Calls...

the kettle black! Today I saw a post in a public forum about someone violating someone's copyright by buying their product and then making one that's exactly the same, then putting it up for sale. Certainly that's a rotten thing to do. But then again, there's only so many ways to dangle a bead from an earwire, so I wonder if such an arrangement of mass-produced jewelry supplies would even qualify for that kind of protection.

Getting back to the person making the complaint -- this person sells jewelry made from photos of contemporary political and cultural icons, photos which are clearly taken from online and print sources. The person's avatar is made from a classic painting which is now in public domain, it's true. But unless the person took a photo of this painting him or herself, it's likely that he or she has violated the copyright of the person who actually took a photo of this painting.

I've seen this kind of outrage about "copying" and "violation of copyright" every day online for close to 15 years now. Depressingly often it is the people who scream the loudest about their rights and threaten lawsuits who take others' work and think if they "change" it by some magical percentage, then it's OK. So taking a Newsweek photo of say, Barack Obama, laminating it and dangling a "Hope" doodad from it and selling it for close to $50 is OK. Never mind the rights of the person who owns copyright of the photo.

OK, so maybe this person got permission from the Newsweek (or whatever) photographer to use their hard work to make a few bucks to sell a bracelet. Somehow, I doubt it. I do love me a good dose of irony.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Two New Soaps

I've just added two new soaps to my Sea Sprite Soaps shop -- Polar Express and Blood Orange Patchouli! They are both divinely fragrant and make such rich, creamy lather. Check them out!


Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm in a Treasury

My Red Clover Tea soap is in a gorgeous treasury, Time for Tea! Go take a look at all the gorgeous tea soaps from the Etsy Soaper Stars Team!

I'm having one of those fallow periods where you just have to rest and re-charge your batteries. Haven't done a lot in terms of work, just reading and doing stuff with the kids. I'm enjoying the last of the spring break with them, as they return to school again in a few days. I can hardly believe my daughter will be going to college in August. Time is going by too fast.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Email Mailing List

I've started an email newsletter. If you'd like to be kept up to date on my newest soaps and other offerings, please sign up from the link at the top right side of the page, or from any page on my Sea Sprite Soaps site. Subscribers will be eligible for a monthly drawing for a free bar of soap and periodic discount coupons.

Last weekend I had to bevel and trim over a hundred bars of soap. It's a good thing I love my little beveler, because it took a loooong time and there were soap shavings everywhere. I made a bunch of new soaps too, including Sanguigno Orange Patchouli, Polar Express, Calabrian Violet and Bergamot, Coconut Lime Verbena and Marigold Mint. Mmmmmm.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm on the Etsy Front Page

For a few brief, shining hours this afternoon, my Oatmeal Milk and Honey soap was on the front page of Etsy. My views jumped a couple hundred in that time period. I did a screen shot as a memento! :D

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Plumeria Handmade Soap


The last of my new ones for a while, I've just added Plumeria Handmade Soap to my shop.

I spent the morning making lots of soap to crank up my inventory -- more Calabrian Violet and Bergamot and Coconut Lime Verbena. They both have colorful swirls in them. While I consider myself kind of swirl-impaired, I think I'm getting better and better at it. The ones I made this morning look pretty good!

My son has been sick with a really high fever the last few days. Lying about groaning, sleeping and taking Advil while mom and dad run around making cream soups and pumping him full of liquids. His girlfriend invited him to camp out in the back yard with her family last night so guess what? Of course he had a miraculous recovery. Unfortunately it was so cold last night that I think they all ended up dragging their camping stuff into the house and sleeping in the living room.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

White Peach Handmade Soap

I've just added White Peach handmade soap to my shop too. It took a bunch of trials to find a peach that didn't smell like cheap room freshener or candy or something. This smells like the real deal, just like a juicy, ripe peach.



I've been taking some late afternoon photos of my Plumeria soap out by the lily pond. The light is so golden and perfect this time of day, light enough to look great but not so bright that it makes a glare on the white parts of the soap.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mandarin Coriander Soap

New in my shop today, Mandarin Coriander handmade soap. It smells so fresh and herbal-y, a very apothecary-style fragrance. And it has pretty orange and green swirls.



Next I have to take some photos of the Peach soap so I can get them into the store too.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Breathtaking Nerve

You know, I try not to get worked up too much about copyright violations, but this is just too egregious to ignore. Someone has stolen my Mermaid Garden and Seashore soap photos and product descriptions. Yeah, she's selling my soap with my photos and my descriptions, and for 75 cents less per bar than I sell it! She has registered the domain with a phoney email, address and phone number. But I'm on to her and have submitted a formal complaint to GoDaddy, who hosts the site. So have a whole bunch of other soapmakers whose work she's stolen.

You just have to wonder sometimes, about the balls some people have. What does this moron think will happen when people order soap and it doesn't look anything like my photos? People who do things like this have an unqualified optimism that no one will ever notice and a belief that the rules don't apply to them. They are usually the first ones to whine about other people violating their rights. Hopefully this person's site will be taken down when the complaints are all evaluated. At least long enough for the asshat to get another web site and do it again.

**Edited to say that all of the copyrighted material, including mine, has been taken down.**

Friday, March 14, 2008

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

If you're a woman, there's a 1 in 9 chance that you'll end up with breast cancer someday. That's something to think about, seriously. One of my dearest friends recently went through a terrible time with breast cancer, including debilitating chemotherapy and loss of all of her hair. Thankfully, she is alive and recovering well. Fighting breast cancer is a cause dear to my heart.

KelliRene, who has KelliRene Designs on Etsy, is raising funds for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. We all know someone who has fought this terrible disease, and some who haven't won the fight. I've made a donation to sponsor her walk. Others, notably in the Etsy Green and Clean Guild, are donating part of their shop earnings to this cause. I'm impressed by KelliRene's determination and spirit. I hope you will consider making a donation to her walk too.

Yesterday I began tweaking my 3D character, Mitsouko. Here's a little peek at how she's shaping up.



Very early tomorrow morning my 18 year old daughter is leaving for New York City to march with her high school band in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. The kids won't be back until Tuesday night. I'm excited for her, but 4 days away from home seems so long. I guess it's good preparation for when she goes off to college in the fall, but I don't like it. :(

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Faeries


I'm having so much fun playing with Sadie, this cute little 3D character. A very talented woman, TamiL, made an adorable princess dress for her. I just had to try it out and do a few renders. Is this too sweet for words, or what?

Today was a major goofing off day for me. I just didn't feel like doing anything, so I didn't. Just sat around working with Poser and watching cooking shows.

Speaking of which, a new cooking store opened in a shopping center near me. I finally got over there and felt like I'd gone to cook's heaven. Everything you've ever seen on Food Network and more! I got a self-cleaning garlic press, a mini-plane for zesting and grating nutmegs, a really nice vegetarian cookbook and a couple of little melmac snack plates. You don't want to know how much that little excursion set me back, but it sure was fun!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cioccalata e Arance Soap


This is the soap I blogged about recently, the one with indecent amounts of undeodorized cocoa butter, jojoba, avocado and sweet almond oils, and real chocolate! It's finally ready to go and Cioccalata e Arance (Chocolate Orange) is in my shop. Honestly, it smells so good I have to resist taking a bite of it.

It occurred to me today that I'm at that age when buying an entire book called "The Miracle of Magnesium" for $14.95 seems like an excellent idea. So is going out and buying magnesium at the health food store, then allowing it to live on the kitchen windowsill with all the other vitamins and health supplements my DH and I take. Everyone I know has a kitchen windowsill loaded with this kind of stuff!

Our daughter is going to New York City with her band this weekend. They are spending 4 days in NYC, marching in the St. Patrick's Day parade. These kids are going to get to see The Blue Man Group (second time for her), Spamalot on Broadway, visit Times Square, BB Kings Blues Club & Grill, do a walking tour of Ground Zero, go to the Top of the Rock observation deck, see Tribeca, Little Italy, Greenwich Village and Chinatown, Radio City Music Hall and appear on CBS's The Early Show on Tuesday morning, 3/18/08! This is quite a trip for these young people! I've been to New York before and I haven't done anything except go to the Empire State Building.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008

When Crafting Goes Wrong

This is what happens. Sorry, I just don't see a big future for these.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pink Grapefruit


Brand new in my shop on Etsy, Pink Grapefruit handmade soap. This is a limited edition soap, very pretty with pink soap "confetti" distributed throughout the soap and decorating it on top, with just a kiss of white gold mica to make it even prettier. And the fragrance, mmmmm....tart and sweet and mouthwateringly pink grapefruit!

I've been on a soaping tear the last few days and have made more than you can shake a stick at. The White Peach and Mandarin Coriander are curing, along with the Oatmeal, Milk and Honey, Caribbean Dreams, Coffee Caramel and Red Clover Tea. My office smells fantastic.

My 17 year old son has acquired a girlfriend. He's hung back and been reluctant to get into a relationship because of some bad experiences he's seen his friends have, but I think Cupid's arrow finally found him. We met her today and she is a lovely girl -- cute, smart, loves the outdoors, isn't afraid of snakes, and she is head over heels for Geoffrey. This is a bittersweet moment for me as a mom.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spearmint Eucalyptus Soap


It's finally done curing, my Spearmint Eucalyptus soap is now in my shop. It smells soooo good, fragranced with essential oils. It's mildly minty, so it's not going to sting your naughty bits. ;->

I got an order of fragrance oils the other day with some wonderful new ones I can't wait to soap! I have Sanguigno Orange and Patchouli, White Peach and Mandarin Coriander. They all smell fantastic. I hardly know which one to soap first, but I'm leaning toward the White Peach.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

27 Years!

Yesterday was our 27th anniversary! We went out to lunch at a new Vietnamese restaurant and had some fabulous, light dishes, including Lemongrass Chicken. And coconut ice cream too! Then home for a quiet nap. For dinner I made the Barefoot Contessa's Macaroni and Cheese for Grownups and OMG, it is to die for. I got us slender little slices of chocolate covered key lime cheesecake for dessert.

This year instead of buying each other anniversary gifts, we decided to just blow a wad on something for the house. We got a big, beautiful deep brown leather recliner for the living room. It's so big it's like settling down into the mother ship. Of course this will primarily be "mama's chair," but I'll let the rest of them sit in it sometimes. :D

Today I made a bunch of Oatmeal, Milk and Honey soap, I was totally out of it. Then our new rescue dog, Libby, found some possum poop in the back yard and rolled in it. I mean all over, even her head stunk. I had the honor of cleaning up the little princess in the shower.

And finally this -- Our 18 year old daughter returned from her overnight trip to Miami with 5 friends to attend Marley Fest. No disasters, the hotel reservation worked smoothly, she didn't run out of money and (only half kidding) no one was arrested. What more can a mother ask for?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Miki 2


Content Paradise's Miki 2 is a lot of fun for us 3D types to play with. I've been making a new skin texture from high resolution photos and working on a new character for her. Here's a little peek at her head texture.

I watched the Etsy founder, Rob, on Martha Stewart today. I've never seen the show before and I have to say except for the Etsy presentation, it was pretty boring. How exciting to see other sellers' work featured on TV!

I'm beginning to think that B&B products are going to give jewelry a run for its money as the category having the most sellers. There's been a mushrooming of people selling soap lately.

I'm always happy to see people try new and creative things. But soapmaking isn't something you just jump into and you start selling the next day. You certainly shouldn't be selling your first batch of soap you ever made either. You need to study, learn, experiment and most importantly of all -- test the soap that you make to insure that it's safe for other people to use. There are no shortcuts, unfortunately.

While it's true that making great soap isn't exactly rocket science, you still need to know what the heck you're doing. You need to know, for sure, the difference between essential oils (which can be very costly and must be used judiciously and with care, depending on their application) and fragrance oils. Puhleeze learn the difference if you want to be taken seriously as a soapmaker.

I'll just say it, OK? You can't get essential oils at Michaels or Joanne's craft store. There is no such thing as strawberry or coconut or lilac essential oil. If you're listing these as ingredients in your shop, you're going to look foolish and turn off buyers who do know a lot about handmade soap. Take the time to learn your craft.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rosemary Mint Handmade Soap

It's finally cured and ready to lather up -- I just added Rosemary Mint handmade soap to my etsy shop. It's a real eye-opener!



Yesterday I made a decadent batch of luxury soap that included insane amounts of natural, undeodorized cocoa butter and mango butter, plus almond, jojoba and avocado oils and other fabulous and pricey ingredients. It's scented with chocolate, orange and hazelnuts. I drool every time I sniff it (frequently). I swear it smells good enough to eat.

Today is a milestone of sorts, but one that leaves me with a heavy heart. A year ago my beloved and much-missed mother passed away. Nothing in your life prepares you for this. Even if you have a conflicted or troubled relationship with your mom, cherish her while you still have her. Life is much shorter than we think.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clementine Lavender Soap

It's finally cured and I can't wait to use some myself! I just added deliciously fragrant Clementine Lavender soap to my shop. It turned out really pretty too, with kind of hippie-ish tie-dye looking purple and orange swirls!


Uh, Jen, if you're reading this, do you recognize the beautiful purple face cloth you knitted for me several years ago? It stars in a lot of my soap porn!

You know, getting your kid through the senior year of high school is not for sissies. Honestly, the more I deal with it the more convinced I am that the last year of high school is a giant PITA. Our county is trying to change the schedule (for the 3rd time in 4 years) back to 7 classes a day. With 2,000+ kids in the school, how much time out of each period will get wasted just dealing with stragglers and late kids, taking roll and other minutiae?

Twice in the last four years, including the present school year, the kids have had 4 long blocks of 90 minutes per class. They have extended periods of time to learn, to ask questions, to do labs and get more information in this block system. Everyone loves it -- kids, parents and especially teachers. Now they want to change it all up again, supposedly because it will save money.

The students at my kids' school had a sit-in demonstration yesterday which the media got a whiff of and it made the TV and newspaper news. It reminded me a bit of the 60's. Fight the Power!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Soaping and 3D Noodling

I'm trying to add more essential oil soaps into my shop, so this morning I made a really lovely warm, woodsy, slightly sweet and minty blend of Eucalyptus and Spearmint. It really smells terrific!

Now that I'm starting back to making 3D characters for Poser again, I really got into it yesterday. I made a head texture from photos so I could start a WIP for Aiko 4, the new Daz anime character. She's great because you can make her more or less realistic, depending on the look you want. Here's what I've got so far.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rosemary Mint

I made Rosemary Mint soap yesterday and tried something fancy -- two layers with white underneath and pale green on top, sketching mint leaves into the surface of the soaps. I often have these great ideas that are much more wonderful in concept than they are in actual execution, LOL. Well I almost but not quite suck at making mint leaves with a toothpick and chopsticks. These soaps will probably benefit from a nice planing with the beveler and a little cosmetic mica to hide the wobblies. It's still pretty though and it smells fantastic.

Daz3D, where I sell my 3D characters as StephanieBT, has released a new version of their base figure, Victoria 4. I'm probably going to make something for her, but it takes a long time to make a skin texture from photos, from scratch. In the mean time, I've been playing with Thorne & Sarsa's beautiful Eliza. I did a fun render of her this morning.


Monday, February 11, 2008

EGCG Scavenger Hunt is On!

Read all about it on Etsy, here! Some lucky person who finds all the letter clues and puts them together to form a word is going to win a fabulous treasure trove of B&B products, including a bar of my Caribbean Dreams handmade soap!

Some of you know that when I'm not making stuff to sell on Etsy, I make 3D characters, including skin textures for them from scratch, from photos. This is one I'm almost done with, for Miki 2 for Poser. Here's a peek at my Mitsouko.



My house smells like an odd but wonderful melange of soaps I made this morning -- Turkish Mocha, Coconut Lemongrass and Clementine Lavender. Mmmmm.

I've been on a kick, crocheting tons of these adorable little Soap Saver/Scrubbies in lots of new colors. I've added a bead to the ends of the drawstring ties to dress them up a little. They're really cute and lather up your soap or shower gel like crazy.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lots to Do

I got a big order last night to make a large number of soaps in 3 different fragrances for a wedding to be held in the Caribbean in a couple of months. I'm pretty excited about it! I'm going to be making big batches of soap this weekend so they will have at least a month to cure. I kind of like the idea of my soapie babies traveling to the Caribbean and being part of a lovely wedding!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Fairy Clip Art

Today I made a package of 7 adorable fairies, royalty-free clip art in PSD format, and added them to my shop, here. There's lots of cute poses and expressions on this little red-headed fairy. The clip art is my own creation, so there's no problems to worry about regarding copyright. These can be used in a multitude of ways -- banners, avatars, web design, ACEO's, greeting and post cards, candy wrappers, you name it!

The Etsy Green and Clean Guild will sponsor a Scavenger Hunt that begins at 12am, EST February 11th and will end at 12 midnight EST, February 16th. All correct entries will then be entered into a drawing and the winner will be selected at random on February 18th.

To join the hunt, visit each of the participating shops and look through the pictures in their shop listings. Find the shops that contain one picture of a "letter" (you will need these to unscramble a word) hiding in one of their shop listings. Search through the participating shops and jot down the "letter" and the name of the shop you have found the letter in. After you have found all of the letters (14 total), then unscramble them to complete a word.

When you think you have solved the puzzle, please convo Domaly with your entry and your name will go into a drawing to win a bunch of bath and body goodies. Winner will be selected at random and announced on February 18th. The lucky winner will be contacted by ‘convo’ on Etsy and the results will be posted in the forums.

And of course I'm participating! :)

I did a little soaping this morning. Instead of the fragrances I thought I'd soap, I ended up making Clementine Lavender. I can't even tell you how good it smells, it's divine. I did a purple and orange swirl in it that looks like tie-dye! Maybe I'll get to the Plumeria tomorrow!

It Had to Be Done

My office was a wreck. Paper, books, supplies, curing rack, stuff just everywhere piled on top of each other. I couldn't find anything. So yesterday I decided to take that first step to getting my work space organized. I started with my desk, the top of which was no longer visible. I promised myself I'd work for 1/2 hour. Ha ha. Three hours later, my office looks soooo much better. I can actually find things.

I still need to put in a couple more hours, but I'm very encouraged that this investment in time pays off so nicely. Not only do things look better, I can find my stuff and I feel calmer and more serene. I truly do believe that outer chaos contributes to inner chaos. It helps to have my Kwan Yin and Jizo statues sitting here next to me too.

Yesterday morning was traumatic. I broke a tooth this past weekend, it just sheared off its back face. So I had to have a temporary crown made, and will go back to get the final one in a couple weeks. I'm a real baby about dental work, I hate it. Especially lying on my back with my mouth open and chin tilted up while my jaws are clamped tight around the molding compound for 3 minutes. OK, it's not waterboarding, but it's close. It's really hard to breathe during those 3 minutes.

I made an avatar for a friend in Poser the other day. I have been playing in Poser a little more lately. I need to get back into it. Here's how the avatar turned out.



Today I want to make something light and spring-y. I'm torn between soaping my Love Spell duplicate, or Grapefruit Jasmine or Plumeria. The Plumeria gives me a headache, but I sold a lot of it last spring, so I feel like I need to make some more. No sense having a big honking bottle of expensive fragrance just sitting there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Calbrian Violet and Bergamot

New in my shop, a delicate, sweet breeze of Calabrian Violet and Bergamot, handmade cold process soap that smells fantastic and lathers like a dream.

Weird Al Ebay Parody song. OMG. This man is brilliant. He's been making me laugh for at least 25 years.

Well I finally broke down and signed up for a trial of Endicia. I'm getting more and more international orders and need to be able to print postage at less than premium rates. I don't understand why the USPS and PayPal sites won't let you print anything except more expensive international postage, but that's how it is. If I had to charge buyers $11 to ship a lip balm to the UK, I'm sure I wouldn't sell very many. So far I've used Endicia to print, at home, postage to Israel, Canada and the UK. I love not having to stand in line at the post office!

On today's agenda: More soaping. Big surprise, yes? I have some Clementine Lavender to make, and a few new fragrance oils I want to soap, including an excellent dupe of Love Spell, and more Turkish Mocha, Ginger Orange and Plumeria. I'm getting excited about my spring fragrances.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

3D Faery Sadie

I've been taking a little break from Poser, a 3D modeling program for which I've been creating characters for several years. Today I just wanted to play with Poser and have been doing renders of Sadie, a very cute little toon faery. :)






Friday, February 1, 2008

Libby and Me

For my old friends who've not seen a recent photo of me, here I am with our new Welshie, Libby. I'm kind of a wreck here, it's just after we got her after driving 550 miles.



Today I added a new Birds and Bees original Etsy banner to my shop. The digital painting is licensed, done by my fabulously talented friend Dana of Jaguarwoman.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Almost February

Just a few more hours and it will be February. I can hardly believe how January flew by! That means two more weeks to get your sweetie a Valentine's Day gift. If you're struggling with what to buy, may I suggest my Chocolate and Roses Gift Set? That's one each of Chocolate Truffle and Attar of Roses fine handmade soaps, heart-shaped and beautifully packaged in heart print bags and tied with a shiny red bow.

Our new dog Libby is making herself right at home. We were prepared to take it slow and help her make adjustments to living with a family, but she's just glided right in and seems very comfortable. Loud noises and sudden movements still scare her, but she's stopped trembling almost completely and is having a ball running around the yard with Taffy, our other Welshie.

I finally did some much-needed maintenance on my domain site, Sea Sprite Soaps. It's kind of tricky keeping track of inventory on two sites. While Etsy brings me more traffic, I still get a lot of orders through my domain site, so I want to keep it up to date. I've also added Google Checkout as an option, since so many people don't want to use PayPal, for various reasons.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Back Home

We are finally home with our rescue Welsh Terrier, Libby. She is 4 years old and spent most of her life in a cage, having one litter of puppies after another. Our wonderful friends, Holly and Steven, fostered her while she healed from her spaying, then they drove over a thousand miles to meet us in Atlanta this past weekend to bring her to us. We drove 1,100 miles in 36 hours to get our Libby. We love her to pieces! She is the sweetest, most affectionate little dog. A little shy and nervous, but we know she will continue to be more outgoing and confident as she becomes more used to being loved and pampered. Here's a photo of our sweet little girl.



Back in my shop, finally, Caribbean Dreams soap! It smells like surf and ocean breezes, such a nice spa-like salty tang. Mmmmmm.

I'm really low on a bunch of soaps all of a sudden. I have to make more of several kinds, but I couldn't resist soaping a new fragrance the other day -- Calabrian Violet and Bergamot. Oh boy. It is fantastic! I am a sucker for a really good violet, and this one rocks!