Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avatar -- Wow!

Geoff and I went to see "Avatar" yesterday afternoon. I can't find enough superlatives or even the words to describe how magical and awesome it was. The 3D and live action parts are blended seamlessly. You really care about these beautiful people and their world. I am a sucker for stories about second chances and redemption, so it was my kind of movie. I was so caught up in it, I barely noticed time passing. When we came out of the theater, blinking in the sunlight, I felt disoriented, like I'd just left an amazing and beautiful place, back to a gray, boring world. If you get a chance, it's well worth going to see it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rose Luxury Lip Balm Featured

My Rose Luxury Lip Balm was featured in Pink Dandy Chatter's blog -- Thanks Jenae!

OMG I'm out of almost everything. Between Etsy and my domain shop, plus a few local accounts that re-sell my soap, I'm running on empty. I'm going to have to do sooooo much soaping after the holidays.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Busy and Happy

Both of our kids have been home from university for a week now, and I've been so busy that I've not done any soaping at all. But I'm very happy! Also out of almost everything, so eventually I'm going to have to get back to work. A few that I ran out of are back in stock now, including Caribbean Dreams, Blood Orange Patchouli and Calabrian Violet & Bergamot.

Bags and Buds was kind enough to include my Tassie Lavender soap in her blog feature on lavender today. Thanks Wendy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sea Witch Handmade Soap

New in my Etsy shop today, Sea Witch Handmade Soap -- A mysterious intriguing fragrance blend of Patchouli, Cinnamon and Cedar. Also available in my Sea Sprite Soaps shop too.

I'm pretty excited about the end of the semester, which is almost here. Vicky gets to come home from USF next Wednesday, and Geoff will be home from FGCU by 12/13. Then we get to have them home until the end of the year. Yay!

I've been playing with Poser again lately and made this cute little faery render.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mr. Funky Water Bottle Holder

I made one of these for my daughter, and it's so cute I made another one to sell at a yearly charity auction I participate in. This is ridiculously adorable, I think. It's made from a pattern in the "Mr. Funky's Super Wonderful" crochet book.



Every once in a while I get lazy and don't make soap for a week or so. Obviously right before the holidays is not a good time to **** off, but I did. I am out of so many soaps it's not even funny. I'm going to be a soaping maniac for the next couple of days.

We watched the season premiere of "Hell's Kitchen" on BBCAM last night. It always amazes me how people with no background in food service or restaurants will sink their life savings into a restaurant when they don't have a clue what they're doing. It does make for entertaining TV, though. Maybe I'm a curmudgeon, but I like Gordon Ramsay.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yesss!

Last night I got enough orders on Etsy to bump me up to 2001 sales! That's pretty exciting. To celebrate, I blew a few bucks on this little dollie, Cookie, and her faery costume.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Big 2000

I'm closing in on 2,000 Etsy sales! Maybe this weekend the numbers will jump. :D

Both of my kids will be home for Thanksgiving beginning Tuesday night. I can't wait! This year I'm going to let Publix make the turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and gravy. I'm going to make a pumpkin cake with maple cream cheese frosting instead of the usual pumpkin pie. And of course, the side dishes everyone has to have: Sweet Potato Casserole with cranberries and marshmallows on top, plus the green bean casserole. My daughter jokes that the main reason she's coming home is for the sweet potato casserole. At least I think she's joking...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back in Stock: Ocean Rain

First, let me mention that from now through the end of the holidays, all of my Soap Trios and Soap Bonanzas come with a free mini lip balm!

Back in stock with a new look, Ocean Rain Handmade Soap (also available in my Etsy shop). I made it blue with green swirls and I like this look much better. It smells so fresh and crisp and clean.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Crocheted Water Bottle Holder

My daughter went to a 3 day music festival this past weekend in North Florida. She had so much fun, and told me about a crocheted water bottle holder she'd seen there but didn't buy. So I decided to surprise her and make one for her. I'm going to send this up to USF tomorrow. I love this colorful variegated yarn.




Monday, November 9, 2009

Finished Reading

I finished reading "Wolf Hall" last night and wow! That is some book. The usual comparisons of Cromwell to More are biased toward More being the kind, gentle cleric, but this book turns it all around. I really loved it. If you adore the Tudor era and the whole Anne Boleyn drama, you'd love this book. I just packed it up and mailed it to my aunt and cousin in England, who put dibs on it after I'd finished reading it!

Both of our kids were home from college this weekend and I was sooo happy to get to spend family time with them. I always overdo it on the gourmet-type cooking and everyone gets French Toast or something equally fussy every morning for breakfast. We watched movies together and just had a relaxing time. It's always so hard when they get in their cars and drive back to school.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Playing in Poser

This is why I spent several days re-downloading everything for Poser. I made a couple of fun renders with Sadie Fae today. I think she is too freaking cute!



My copy of "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel finally arrived the other day and I've been reading it at night. I'm restraining myself not to just gobble up the whole book in one sitting -- hard to do since it's 500+ pages anyway. But I want to savor this. It's beautifully written.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reinstalling Programs

Argh, I realized this weekend that I still hadn't re-installed Poser on my new computer. This is a huge program with a lot of content, so it's not a trivial matter. Then I discovered that somehow I had lost the backup copy of my most recent upgrade and went through hundreds of backup DVD's to no avail. And the DVD with all my content from Daz3D was corrupted.

So I spent roughly 48 hours downloading stuff from my account at Daz, getting my stuff back. It's incredibly slow and tedious. And now I'm working with an older version of Poser, one that was fine for a long time but I got spoiled by the upgrade to Poser 7 and now I'm back to Poser 6. Sniff. I may have to spend moolah now to upgrade to Poser 8. Some day.

It was so much fun seeing the little tiny kids come around trick or treating. We must have had at least 200 kids come around in packs with moms and dads and even costumed dogs! I'd bought $40 worth of candy at WalMart and gave away everything except 2 Heath bars I hoarded for myself.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Here's a little Happy Halloween image I made a while back with one of my 3D characters, Gothilina! Happy trick or treating!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Fragrance Oil Order

I got a big shipment of fragrance oils today and most of them are tried and true, the ones that sell well year in, year out. But I can't resist trying new ones and today I got the most incredible Lavender Ginger blend. It's so awesome, perfect for people who love lavender and even those who don't, because the lavender is barely there, just enough to soften the zip of the ginger. I can't wait to soap this one!

Tonight I made a scrumptious pasta dish with a luxurious, creamy sauce made from evaporated skim milk, pumpkin puree, gorgonzola cheese, fresh sage and nutmeg, mixed with penne and sauteed onions, garlic and shitaki mushrooms. OMG. It was heavenly, but a lot of work. It wouldn't have been so bad if I wasn't also trying to make homemade bread and boiling a chicken for the cats. Yes, we boil a chicken once a week for the cats, then portion it out into freezer bags for the week. We love our kitties around here!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Flower Balm Minis and Pumpkin Creme Brulee

I was busy taking photos with my new light box setup yesterday so I could get new goodies into my shop. I finally got ahold of a huge box of the cutest little mini lip balm tubes, so my first product with them is my Flower Balm Minis -- My Luxury Lip Balm flavored in Rose, Violet and Lavender Vanilla, packaged with a little cello bag and shiny bow, perfect for gift giving. It's here in my shop or over here at Etsy.



And my Pumpkin Creme Brulee soap is here, plus it's on Etsy too. This stuff smells amazing!



Both of our kids were home for the weekend. It was so nice to be able to spend time together, watching movies and cooking their favorite foods. I miss them so much.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mabel's Mint Sugar Cookie Soap

New in my shop today, Mabel's Mint Sugar Cookie Handmade Soap! It's a nice warm bakery scent and the mint is delicate, not eye-watering. Think of a sugar cookie right out of the oven. Mmmm.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Sad Journey

I've just returned from 3 days North Carolina. My sister died, unexpectedly. She was only 58. I hope I was of some use to my nephew, helping to sort through things. It's going to be hard to realize I'll never see her again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cozy Christmas Handmade Soap

Well, it's kind of a homely, speckled brown bar, but the fragrance of my Cozy Christmas handmade soap is amazing -- A deliciously complex blend of rum, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate. Mmmm. It makes me yearn for a mug of something wonderful and a rocking chair in front of a fireplace.

One of the things about making soap that I don't like is cleaning up after I remove the soap from the molds. It seems to take forever to scrape all the excess soap off, then scrub all the stuff off the molds in the sink, banging and clanking around, knocking the water filter off the faucet, then drying everything with paper towels. The other night I got a brainstorm and wondered why I hadn't thought of this before.

I filled up a big storage container with water from the hose in the front yard, put all the molds in there and let them sit for a couple of hours. I came out and voila! Everything had dissolved off the molds. Just had to hose off all of the pieces and laid them out on newspaper to dry on the lawn. It only took me almost 10 years to come up with this method.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mermaid Dreams Treasury

No kidding, I've been trying to make a treasury for two years now and tonight I finally got my chance! Check out the beautiful, briney brushwork in Mermaid Dreams! There are some really amazing artists on Etsy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Winter Festival Handmade Soap

This new soap smells sooo good, bright citrus and deep conifers in a lively, wintry blend! Check out Winter Festival, also in my Etsy shop here.



We drove up to Tampa to have lunch with Vicky the other day. It was so nice to get to spend some time with her, since she hasn't been home for a couple of weekends. She got a job at a whole foods grocery store and will start working there soon. She wants to make more moolah to attend more of the many, many concerts available in the Tampa Bay area.

This weekend Geoff and his girlfriend drove up to Tampa to spend the weekend with Vicky. It's so nice when your kids grow up and get along. I remember the first few years, trying to keep her from banging him on the head with her bottle. They are only 11 months apart and it's only in recent years that they seem to have fun together!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Patchouli Raspberry Handmade Soap

New in my shop today, sweetly exotic and luscious Patchouli Raspberry soap! It's also available in my Etsy shop here.



We had quite a scare yesterday. Vicky attends USF in Tampa, where there were reports of a man with a bomb and a gun, and another guy with a knife around the library. The entire school was in lockdown for 3 hours. Fortunately, the school sent text messages to all the students and staff, so she knew to stay put until the crisis was over. The schools have learned a lot from the tragedy of Virginia Tech a few years ago.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cute Crocheted Bath Mitt

I think this is too freaking cute for words -- A crocheted duckie bath mitt! I got the pattern from one of my favorite sites, Annie's Attic. It doesn't have a thingie for the thumb, but there are little pouches on both sides for your fingers to get a grip.



Last week I made some cute little soaps in a seashell candy mold. I thought I might give them away with big orders over the holidays. Then I got the idea that they would be pretty on top of regular, full sized bars of soap. So I tried it out and these turned out so pretty! They are topped with a light dusting of white gold mica for some pretty sparkle.



Two days ago I had to go to the eye doctor for my annual exam. This visit he didn't have the lower dose eye dilating medicine that they usually use so they can look way into your eyes. I had to have this full strength stuff that messed up my vision and perception for most of the day. I had a terrible reaction to it, including grossly elevated blood pressure, nausea and rapid heart rate. I was really scared about the blood pressure especially. It's finally gone back down to normal, thankfully.

You never think about something routine like that having such scary and potentially life-threatening side effects. But the eye drops contain atropine, and among the side effects which are rarely reported are perceptual disturbances, nausea, dizziness, elevated blood pressure and racing pulse. Just my luck.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Jury Duty For Me

Just because it's the end of the month, I was thinking I might not get called for jury duty. But last night when I called in to check, I was told to report at 8 am this morning. In Fort Myers, which is a good hour's drive from here. So I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30, got ready, and drove up there.

Just as I'd suspected, no one wants a psychologist on their jury. Not the defendant, and not the prosecutor either. Oh well. It might've actually been an interesting case, a jail corrections worker gouged out the eye of a mentally ill inmate.

Now here is a new low in dolls. I always thought American Girl dolls were adorable and promoted good wholesome ideals for little girls. Uh oh. Meet Gwen, America's Homeless Doll.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Winter Grapefruit and Tassie Lavender Soap

Back in stock after a summer hiatus, my Winter Grapefruit (below) and Tassie Lavender handmade soaps! As always, they are also available in my Etsy shop. I love the smell of Winter Grapefruit, it smells juniper-ish, like a drink!



I made some little seashell soaps from candy molds the other day, just an experiment to see if it would work. They are indeed adorable, and they popped right out of the molds. But they are so teensy tiny that they don't hold much soap. It would be a nightmare to make them in quantity. But I think these will make cute giveaways for holiday orders.

My kids are off doing their thing this weekend. Vicky went to Tallahassee to a football game (basically, to party) and Geoff is hanging out with his girlfriend at school. So no kids at home this weekend. Sniff.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Fragrances

I'm such a sucker for good fragrance oil descriptions. I recently found a new supplier who has some amazing fragrances with such poetic names. I splurged on Guinevere's Attraction, Winter Festival, Dark Knight, Thieves and Raspberry Patchouli. I made the last one yesterday and will unmold it this morning. It smells soooo good. I get weak in the knees over patchouli anyway, and you add some raspberry, well...you just can't go wrong there!

I spent a long time yesterday re-organizing my soap boxes. I used to use long, narrow boxes like you'd use to store baseball cards. Keeping the soap in boxes, protected by paper towels in between the layers, helps to keep the scent for much longer than storing on the curing rack. And I needed more room on that curing rack because I'm making larger quantities of each kind now.

The solution was new, shoebox size boxes. They are shipped flat, but they're scored to make folding them up easier. Then it was heft the little boxes out, put everything in new boxes with fresh paper towels, label box, etc. Over and over again. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I finally switched to the larger boxes. When my work space is organized, my brain feels more organized too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mango Tango Handmade Soap

Back in stock in my shop, Mango Tango handmade soap! This stuff smells amazing. Also available in my Etsy shop here.


Both kids were home for the weekend, and it was so much fun to have them here. Well, maybe not so much fun for Geoff, who is finally recovering from swine flu. Just what you want to happen to your kid during his first month away from home at college! He was pretty miserable for a week or so, and slowly feeling better.

Vicky celebrated her 20th birthday Saturday. She's not a teenager anymore. She was photographed at a SuperVillains concert in St. Petersburg last week by a professional photographer. This turned out kind of cute!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Preservatives are Necessary

Read this. I see products all over the internet, including on Etsy, actually bragging about "no preservatives." If you're going to make and sell B&B products that contain water, you must use a preservative. Especially if you're telling people it's OK to slather the stuff on children.

P.S. Vitamin E and other antioxidants are not preservatives.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tahitian Petals Handmade Soap

Another new one in my shop today, Tahitian Petals! This is a very soft, delicate fragrance perfect for people who love a subtle soap, one that doesn't hit you over the head with scent. Also available in my Etsy shop here.



This Saturday is Vicky's birthday, so we will have both kids home for the weekend. Yay! I'm going out birthday present shopping today. A little retail therapy always cheers me up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Scheherezade Handmade Soap

Something new to list today -- Scheherezade handmade cold process soap! It's also listed in my Etsy shop here. It's an innocent-looking ivory bar, but the scent is downright sensual.



I'm still getting used to my new computer (a Gateway SX2800) and re-installing programs and files. Every day I find something that I need to install, like WinZIP or WS-FTP and like that. It was a good opportunity, though to decide which programs I can do without. I am not doing so much 3D work these days, so some of those giant programs can be left off.

Thank goodness for Carbonite, an online backup service that works all by itself in the background. I don't do anything except let it run. I have so much stuff backed up it's going to take a few more days to get it all back.

I've never had Windows Vista before and it takes some getting used to. It's tricky to find your stuff since there isn't a My Documents file anymore. I'm slowly getting to know my way around it. I love this small, quiet little tower on my Gateway. It's got 4GB RAM and a 650 GB hard drive, and I got it for about 25% of what I paid 3 years ago for a custom designed PC. And 9 USB ports, a card reader, great port access, you couldn't ask for more for a mere $449!

Through some alignment of the moon and stars, I was on on-call for jury duty in both the federal court in Fort Myers, and the Collier County court here in Naples. I had to explain to the county that while I'm a really good citizen, I cannot be in two places at one time. So now I'm only on call for federal court. I'm not sure that's such a good deal. I don't mind doing my duty, but I'd sure hate to be sequestered for 6 months 35 miles away from my family in a long trial. I've still got 2 weeks of being on call left.

It's odd that I haven't been called for jury duty in several years, then I get hit with a double dose of it. It's a waste of time to call me. No one ever wants a clinical psychologist on a jury. No defendant ever wants smart people on their jury. I've never been picked for jury duty, even after being a registered voter for decades. I guess there's always a first time, though.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scrapbooking Graphic Thieves

These thieves make me sick to my stomach. They love to blog and talk about how they "create" things, but they don't create anything. They buy (or steal through illegal file sharing) the work of genuinely talented people who take weeks or months to digitally paint beautiful objects, then think they own these products and can use them any way they like. They take someone else's work, repackage it into a zip file and sell this stuff to unwary scrap book graphics consumers.

If you want to have your eyes opened dramatically to the scope of what's going on, check out this treatise by a very talented friend of mine, Jaguarwoman. Basically, people like this miscreant, Seachell, buy her work, then sell it (or worse, give it away) for half price or even less. So no one needs to buy the original, costing the actual artist loss of sales. The scrapbooking "artist" (what a joke!) gets lots of praise for giving away beautiful clipart that she neither made herself nor altered in any way. Not even a hue shift, fercrissake! Yes, it's very easy to be generous when you are giving away someone else's hard work. This has happened over and over again to Jaguarwoman, as well as to Finfond.

I will never understand why it is so difficult to follow Terms of Use. You can take resources like a painted leaf, a metallic rectangle, and a bow with a jewel on it and put them altogether to make a pretty frame. You can sell that frame and put your own copyright on it. What you can't do is take the leaf, rectangle and bow with a jewel, slap your own copyright on it, then redistribute it as is. It's a very simple concept, really. People who don't get it seem to be either disingenous or willfully stupid.

I don't know where the idea came from that one becomes an "artist" by recycling someone else's art. It's crazy and it's depressingly ubiquitous. Anyone who buys from these people who steal and lie about it are supporting digital thuggery. It's something to think about.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Wooden Soap Dishes

I was kvetching about the cost of getting new soap dishes and having them shipped here. I like to have them on hand because I give away with larger orders, and sometimes just for the hell of it I'll tuck one into an order. So my DH went to Lowe's and got a 6' length of Western Cedar and made 18 of these beauties for me!



Aren't they pretty? Saved me a ton of money too! :D

Both kids are home for the long holiday weekend. It's really lovely seeing them around the house and getting to spoil them a little with home-cooked meals. Yesterday was Geoff's 19th birthday, so we went to the beach in the morning, early, before the crowds got there. We floated around in the water for a while, saw lots of cow nose rays and baby pompano, gathered shells and just relaxed. I made a chocolate cake and later we all went DaRuMa's, one of our favorite restaurants. It was an idyllic day. This afternoon they both go back to school and I'm feeling sad about it already.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

FN Made Me a Better Cook

I swear it has. In the last year I have finally felt like I can cook just about anything, thanks to watching way too much Food Network. Tonight I made a totally vegetarian, gourmet meal that was out of this world. I made a spinach salad with crispy prosciutto, red onions and orange sections with an orange vinaigrette (thanks Giada!). Then I used my organic baking mix from MaryJane's Farm to make a fabulously weird but delicious pizza with asiago cheese, walnuts, raisins and fresh rosemary from my garden! And my DH, the original meat and potatoes guy, loved it.

Now that we've gotten through health crises, kids off to college and various other blocks to creativity, I'm thinking of doing something new. Specifically, I'm reading as much as I can about making syndet shampoo bars. The ingredients are pricey and the learning curve is steep, but I'm determined. It could be a nice niche market.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Catching Up

We were so happy to have Geoff come home for the past weekend. I miss him terribly after 10 days at FGCU. I have never not seen him for more than a day. I spoiled him shamelessly with lots of his favorite foods and it was fun to just sit around and talk. One thing I made this weekend that turned out so good I gave most of it to various neighbors so I wouldn't be tempted to eat it all -- the Neelys Coconut Bundt Cake. OMG. Ambrosial!

Geoff will be home again for the 3 day holiday weekend soon, and his 19th birthday. Vicky will be home too. We might make it a joint celebration because her birthday is 2 weeks after his. They both love DaRuMa's, kind of a Benihana style Japanese restaurant where you sit at a big table and your meal is cooked right in front of you, with plenty of theatrics. It is soooooo expensive, but will create even more happy memories for them.

I just want to mention the power of technology. My son made a Power Point presentation of all the items on his birthday wish list, complete with URL and background music. That boy! I have to say it certainly made shopping a lot easier.

I just took a spin around Etsy's "Alchemy" section to see if there was anything I might like to bid on. Unbelievably, someone wants to pay $80 (including shipping) for 180 vegan lip balms in over a dozen different flavors, all tinted and flavored to specification. That works out to $0.44 each. Are you freaking kidding me? Even a cheap tube costs 13 cents. Not to mention the cost of ingredients, flavor oils, lip-safe tints, and your time, etc. I wasn't surprised to see no bids. It's a sad reminder of why I rarely even browse Alchemy.

I've not been doing much lately except catching up on my soapmaking. On the curing rack are Tahitian Petals, Calabrian Violet & Bergamot, Scheherezade, Plumeria, Secret Garden, Twilight Rose, Beach and (my personal favorite) Chocolate Amber. I'm pretty excited about these! More to come: Cozy Christmas, Rosemary Mint, Mango Tango and Mint Sugar Cookie. Then all the holiday stuff comes next! One thing about soaping, there's always more to make!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Personas for Firefox

This is really clever, if you use Firefox and want to dress it up a bit with colorful "skins." You can get Personas for your browser! I have a colorful Japanese tattoo across the top of mine now. You can get directions on how to make your own, too. I might try making one, just for fun.

I made Calabrian Violet & Bergamot and Scheherezade soap today. I love swirling colors and the first one has purple and green swirls that turned out perfectly -- feathery and delicate! I've got so much soap to make, especially new ones for the holiday season: Mint Sugar Cookies, Ginger Orange, Cozy Christmas, Plumberry Spice and Holiday Candy.

Both kids started classes at their universities today. We won't get to see them now until the weekend. It seems like such a long time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

I've mentioned before that my son, Geoff, is starting at FGCU next week. He's already moved into his dorm and just waiting to start classes tomorrow. He and all of the other incoming freshmen had a summer reading assignment: "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson. The book describes Mortenson's 15+ years dedicating himself to building schools for children in the most remote, mountainous areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, at considerable cost to Mortenson's own personal life and often his very safety. I love that he says educating girls is especially important because it helps to break the cycles of poverty and violence so often found in these areas.

I already had the book and so Lowell and I both read it along with Geoff, discussing the chapters as we finished them. I was pleasantly surprised that Geoff liked the book and found it interesting. We often marveled at how one man can make such a difference in the lives of so many people, so far away, through sheer dedication and determination.

Today was the Freshman Convocation at FGCU, a formal and moving way to begin one's college career, I believe. After speeches from faculty and administrators, Greg Mortenson was the featured speaker. He was a charming, erudite, funny, self-effacing and inspirational speaker. The crowd of students and parents were uniformly captivated. It makes your heart glad to know that there are people in this world like Greg Mortenson.

We drove Geoff back to his dorm and didn't expect to hear from him for a while. But he called a few hours later from the cafeteria, very excited, because "Guess what mom? I shook hands with Greg, and I got my picture taken with him!" Already on a first name basis, that's what kind of guy this is. I told Geoff he has to send me a copy of this picture! Someday he will look back on this and maybe he'll have a photo of himself with a Nobel Peace Prize winner -- Mortenson has been nominated for the award this year!

We are having a quiet evening at home now. I made homemade pesto from the basil plant in my backyard, a big showy, glorious shrub of fragrant green goodness. If there was ever a reason to be thankful you have a nose, basil is as good a reason as any.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Squidoo'd!

I was really pleased to see that Downtime featured a number of my soaps in her Squidoo Lens Etsy artists love the beach! Thanks!

Tomorrow is the kids' last day of summer vacation. Wednesday we take Vicky to Tampa, then Geoff moves into his dorm on Thursday. I'm not liking this very much. :(

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ocean Rain Handmade Soap

New in my shop today, Ocean Rain soap! It's really hard to describe the fragrance, but it does actually smell fresh and clean and ozone-ish, like rain on seawater.



Less than a week to go before Geoff moves into the dorms at FGCU. Next day, he's going to help us move Vicky back into her USF dorm. Then it's going to be just me and Lowell at home. Sniff.

One thing we will be trying when we're on our own (at least during week days, the kids come home on weekends) is more vegan recipes. It's not a philosophical or moral issue to eat vegan. We were shocked and impressed by a book we read recently called "The China Study." The book summarizes extensive, well conducted, large scale research showing that dairy and meat products, especially casein, cause cancer cells to grow and cutting them from your diet slows tumor growth. Since my DH has just been through his second bout with cancer, I figure anything that might help prevent any further illness is worth a shot.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I love Treasuries

I was lucky that my Rosemary Mint Heel Butter was featured in this Treasury today! Check it out, there's the cutest thumbnail in there for a baby sleeping in a big basket, totally zonked out with his arm hanging out of the basket! Too cute.

Monday, August 10, 2009

New Bundt Pan

I've always wanted a bundt pain, but couldn't bring myself to spend money on it. But the Neelys on Food Network made a chocolate bundt cake Saturday that looked so delicious, I couldn't put it off anymore. I actually ended up making this recipe, which is absolutely divine and has a smidge of expresso powder and cardamom in it. The recipe forgets to mention that you need chocolate in the ingredients, so I used some chocolate chips I'd been saving for cookies. OMG. Chocolate decadence is right! Go on, you know you want to make one.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Family Pic

This is the first family photo we've had for a long while, taken around the new year on our last visit to Miami. From L to R it's Lowell's granddaughter's husband, his granddaughter, Lowell, me (striped shirt), Geoff, Vicky, Lowell's grandson and his daughter.



I ordered a big, 10 lb. box of MaryJane's Farm's baking mix. I love the stuff! But it's reeeeeally big. Keeping little critters and ants out is a big problem in South Florida. I just ordered a highly rated air-tight container that should do the trick on Amazon.com. I sure hope it works! I made a peach cobbler with the baking mix the other night and it was fantastic. Of course you can't go wrong with 10 dead ripe peaches, right? I love the perfume of peaches.

I received some wonderful soap from AromaArtisan yesterday, her Turkish Cafe Luxury, and OMG it is amazing. She sent me two natural perfume samples that are exquisite too, Delilah and Eden. At first the Eden grabbed my attention, but Delilah developed the most heavenly, rich and deep scent after I'd worn it a while. If you love natural perfumes, you must try that one!

It occurs to me that I am totally bonkers about fragrance. It makes me happy and I study and learn as much about perfumes as I can. I'm the one wearing Je Reviens or L'Heure Bleue with my 10 year old t-shirt, jeans and flipflops. I'm a woman with priorities, and smelling great is one of them. If I ever win Lotto, I would love to take a formal class in perfume making. Not necessarily all natural perfumes, but that would be a good place to start. It's just that ingredients are so expensive, and I don't have time in my days for one more Learning Experience.

The countdown has begun for my kids going off to college. On the one hand it will be quieter around here and our grocery bill will go way down. On the other hand, it is going to be too quiet and boring. With both kids off to college on August 20th, our whole lives will change again. Thank goodness Geoff can be home on weekends in 1/2 hour, and Vicky can be here in 2 hours. If they were in California or Wisconsin or something, I don't know if I could bear it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1800 Sales!

I've reached a milestone of sorts on Etsy -- 1800 sales! It's very gratifying to see that number.

New in my shop: Lolita Lemicka and Beach Handmade Soap! These are also available in my Sea Sprite Soaps shop.



Coming soon: Ocean Rain, Sandalwood Rose and Caribbean Coconut.

In a little over two weeks, Vicky goes back to USF and Geoff begins as a freshman at FGCU. The summer has gone by too quickly. The house is going to be so quiet with just me and Lowell around. Hopefully they will come home often on weekends. Hope, hope.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wholesale: It's Not for Everyone

I think it's important for crafters who sell their work to have a clear picture of what their goals are, especially how hard they want to work and how much time they have to devote to making products. I see a bias in many crafting forums that everyone should be dying to wholesale their products and try to get them into brick and mortar stores.

That option doesn't interest me. It's way more work and devotion than I'm willing to spend, given all the other things on my plate and this stage of my life. I'm not a hobbyist who dabbles in soap. I've been doing this for 10 years, and sell a lot of it. For full price per bar, with a couple notable exceptions over many years to friends who opened stores and needed a price break.

Of course there's nothing wrong with wholesaling. But it's hard enough to make an appreciable profit selling soap (or earrings, birdhouses, baby blankets, etc.) as it is. When you wholesale soap, for example, you better be committed in terms of laying out lots of money for materials and work time. You're going to have to do it on a very large scale, because you're only going to make about half of what you would selling it retail. I know and admire many women online who do so and support their families that way, but it's not for me.

Even though I have in my Etsy Policies page that I do not do wholesale or consignment, I still receive regular convos about wholesaling, offering me mere pennies over what I spend to make soap. When I decline politely, sometimes I am treated to protracted arguments about how wrong I am not to sell wholesale and (always a chuckle for this), they are just trying to "help" me make money.

Uh, thanks but no thanks. It's nice to have extra income from making soap, but I don't want to do it full time. I suspect there are lots of people out there who think like I do about this issue. It's not wrong or dumb. It is what it is. A choice.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dreamcatcher Soap

I added Dreamcatcher Soap to my shop today. It's hard to describe, but it smells ethereal and wonderful. It's also available in my Etsy shop.



I thought it was kind of funny that Jon Stewart is America's most trusted news reporter, given that his is a comedy show.

A month from today both of our kids will be in college, Vicky back at USF and Geoff away from home for the first time at FGCU. I don't know how I'm going to stand it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Colorful Treasury

My Soap Bonanza is in this Very Colorful Treasury today -- if you get a chance, give the treasury some love!

Vicky and I went to see "Harry Potter" this weekend and it was wonderful! It's such a pleasure to see how the kids in the movies have grown up and become really good actors. It's going to be hard to wait for the last two, now.

I made a really lovely new soap recently, a beautiful duplicate of Bobbi Brown's "Beach." It smells exactly like the mingled scents of warm sea air, salty brine and suntan lotion (the old Coppertone kind, not the coconut kind we get these days) -- I can almost hear the seagulls squawking and feel the sand between my toes when I smells this stuff.

I made the "Lolita Lempicka" duplicate too. Unfortunately, the colorant I used to make a purple with white swirl was not successful and the color turned out a muddy brownish-purple. Thankfully, it still smells fantastic. It's possible that as the pH changes over the cure, the purple will show up more. I hope.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cheap and Green Packaging

I've discovered an awesome, cheap and green packaging material -- end rolls of blank newsprint. My local newspaper sells these for $5 a roll. Each roll is about 4' across and usually there's around 100 yards of so of paper on them. What a bargain! It makes me feel better than using bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts to cushion my packages.

An online friend of mine of 13 years lost her husband to cancer last night. It's a terrible disease, one we are struggling with in our own family. I was just so sorry to hear about her loss.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

UPS Man Makes Me Sooo Happy

I love it when the UPS guy arrives -- that means new fragrances to soap! Yesterday I got two big boxes of stuff and spent a while happily opening and sniffing bottles. One that really has me jacked up is a duplicate of "Lolita Lemicka." It is an exact dupe and smells absolutely wonderful. I might soap it, but I might also keep it to make perfume for myself or a private stash. It's amazing.

I've been playing with the Poser program again lately, after taking a break from it for a while. I got some new morphs for the Victoria/Aiko 4 character. You can see all of my 3D characters at DAZ3D here. I made this little render today using my Niko texture. I'm a sucker for faeries and big ears. :D

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Portrait of a Sea Sprite

I did this portrait render of my little sea sprite this morning. When I'm not making soap, I'm making 3D characters for a program called "Poser." It's a great program that lets you move your characters in 3D and render or "take pictures" of them from any view. Loads of fun but a very expensive way to make pretty pictures. :D



Be sure to click to see it full size, it looks way better that way.

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Soap and FN Obsession

New today in my shop, Tibetan Tea -- Mysterious and warm and exotic, like a blend of incense and Chai tea! And back in stock, my Sanibel Sunset and Plumeria soaps! Sometimes it's really hard to wait a month for the soap to cure. I have got to start making bigger batches!

I can't believe how much time I've been spending watching FN lately. I was so happy to see the return of Daisy Martinez on Saturday morning. Now that I've got a food processor, I made my own sofrito to cook her Arroz con Pollo for dinner last night. The recipe has a mistake in it though, it should be 2 cups of rice, not 5. Unbelievably delicious!

And I'm really enjoying "The Next Food Network Star," which is kind of like "Survivor," only with food. It's down to 4 finalists now and to be honest, I like all of them. I have to admit to a soft spot for Melissa, the amazing SAHM who cooks like a chef. I like Jeffrey's laid back style too. Debbie makes great food, but is looking more and more like a self-centered diva. I keep rooting for Jamika to not shoot herself in the foot because I'd love to see a Caribbean-themed cooking show from her.

They are all such talented cooks! I'd like to see more opportunities for them to cook their own stuff instead of being on teams. I remember teams, with no great fondness, from school. They reveal more about personality than ability, and if one strong personality takes over everyone suffers. One person ends up doing all the work and everyone else coasts.

I did nothing productive all weekend and don't feel particularly guilty about it either. But today I have to get cracking on catching up with soapmaking. I'm starting to run out of stuff.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lazy Sunday

I'm having a lazy day. Up for breakfast, coffee and reading the paper. Back to bed cuddling with Taffy, the Welsh Terrier, for a snooze. Up again and reading forums. I know I need to make some Caribbean Dreams soap, but I am having trouble marshalling my energy.

I went to a forum today where about the millionth (is that a word?) person started a thread asking how Etsy compares to ArtFire. And I'm thinking, "FFS, another thread about this topic?" Does anyone ever do a search before starting a new thread? It is really tedious to see the same post over and over, ad infinitum. Apparently my thoughts on this issue are not popular with other posters who want to re-invent this wheel daily.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Etsy Front Page 2X in One Day!

I was wondering what happened today when I got a bunch of sales, after a slow-ish kind of week. One of my favorite Etsy people (thanks Liz!) took a screen shot for me of my Macapuno Sorbet soap on the front page of Etsy. And someone else just told me that my Mango Tango was on the front page this morning. Wow, talk about feast or famine....Yay!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Backyard Bromeliads

These were just so vivid and colorful this morning, I had to take some photos of them. We have bromeliads planted all over the back yard. They grow in shady spots and the inflorescences last for weeks. They are a welcome spot of color in all the shadiness. I took one closeup of the pink so you can see the awesome dusty color; it's part of a cluster of 3. :)








I spent the morning in the pleasant, mindless task of beveling cured soap that's ready to go into storage boxes. It takes less than 30 seconds to do each bar, but it adds up when you're doing a lot of them at a time. Still, I like taking the sharp edges off the soap that it feels more comfortable in your hands and it doesn't lacerate you the first time you take a shower. I get into a rhythm that's almost mesmerizing and very relaxing. I've recently bought some larger storage boxes so that I can make bigger batches of soap and have a place to keep them pristine and organized.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday...

to me! It's my big day. The kids baked me a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles, and we're doing takeout from Carrabba's. I got a new food processor from Lowell, pretty kitchen stuff from Vicky and an Amazon.com gift card from Geoff. Another great birthday present: Today I reached 1,700 sales on Etsy! Yay!

We went to the onocologist today and it sounds like all my DH will need is careful monitoring of his CEA blood levels without aggressive chemo intervention. There is one more consult with a radiologist to get through to make sure he thinks this course is fine, and then, hopefully, we can all take a deep breath and relax.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Beach Time Treasury

My Sea Glass soap was featured in this Beach Time Treasury today! :)

I've really got to stop watching so much Food Network. I'm hooked on the "Next FN Star" show and am rooting for Debbie and Melissa. And I keep haunting the recipes section and making amazing stuff. Last night I made chicken pounded out thin, then rolled up into pinwheels with prosciutto, spinach with garlic and goat cheese, browned and baked, accompanied by rice pilaf. The night before it was roasted vegetables with penne and fontina cheese. Stop me before I cook again!

I'm taking my DH to the oncologist tomorrow to see if he's going to need chemotherapy to follow up his surgery. I am so much hoping that he does not have to go through that.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Etsyversary!

Today is my shop's second Etsyversary! :D

All the flowers I planted a few days have already started taking off. It's been over 90 degrees with torrential downpours every afternoon, perfect for the flowers. Bad for the herbs, which tend to bolt when they grow so fast. I've given up on coriander, it tends to go to seed so fast around here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Late Flower Planting

Happy 4th of July!

We're not doing any big cookouts or anything today, for the first time. The kids are going to be out with friends today, boating and barbecuing. So we're having leftovers and a nice, sedate trip to the bookstore later to use our 30% off coupons. My DH is recovering from the surgery two weeks ago and short outings are the best we can manage for a while.

I'm late getting my summer flowers into their self-watering pots around the lily pond this year. But like they say, better late than never... I went to Lowe's and Home Depot yesterday looking for plants and was disappointed at how little variety there was. So I went in the broiling freaking heat to Driftwood Garden Center, which is more expensive but always has a better selection. I found enough pretty, colorful flowers and herbs to fill up almost all of my planters.

So here's some photos of the new, unfurling water lily (a little obscured) and my new flowers and herbs.










Thursday, July 2, 2009

Two Years

I've just realized that on July 6th, I'll have been selling on Etsy for two years! It doesn't seem that long, honestly. I've been making soap for almost 10 years, and that doesn't seem like so long to me either. I guess it's true, if you love what you're doing, the time flies by.

I've got some recently made soap next to me on the curing rack and the fragrance is unbelievable. It's called Tibetan Teahouse, and it has the most awesome scent of smoky tea and spices, very incense-like. I think this is going to be a new favorite of mine when it's finally ready to use.

My DH is getting around a bit more, beginning to take short walks down to the corner, making his own tea in the morning, and generally eating and sleeping better. He's feeling so much better. Considering his surgery was only two weeks ago, his recovery has been remarkable.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yummy Bakeover

Recently I began subscribing to MaryJane's Farm magazine. It's a really wonderful combination of information and values about eating organic, seasonal foods, old fashioned thrift, respect for the environment, feminism and glam. Mary Jane Butters, who runs her own farm and is now a publishing phenomenon, has branded herself as a Farm Girl type of Martha Stewart. She sells everything she writes about, from her organic Budget Mix (an organic, healthier alternative to Bisquick) to the cutest damn travel trailer I've ever seen (for about $15,000).

Today I decided to try to make one of her much-touted Bakeovers. The video shows how it's done, but it's very simple and I have to say it -- Delicious! I used potatoes, onions, garlic, tiny cubes of ham and Gruyere cheese, topped with the whole wheat budget mix crust. Take a peek at the leftovers!



I'm envisioning all kinds of possibilities now that I've done it. My family totally loved it! It gratified those few small molecules of Farm Girl I've got drifting around inside me somewhere.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Back in Stock

Back in stock, two of my beautiful, fragrant and lusciously lathering handmade soaps, Dragon's Blood and Celtic Moonspice.

I spent some time yesterday figuring out Google Base. I had already signed up for Google Analytics, but found out yesterday I'd used a manual upload system which I promptly forgot about and so nothing had been added to my account for almost a year. Sigh. Now I have Google Base set to update daily using my shop's RSS shop feed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lotus Flower

Today is the first day in weeks that I haven't had to run around and be somewhere at a certain time. On top of that, it's been raining hard. We really need the rain so it's wonderful. And it's the perfect day for napping, which I've been doing with a vengeance.

The big beautiful lotus flower bud finally started opening in our backyard lily pond. It's the most delicate, fluffy flower, pink and white and yellow. It's taken a beating with the rain, so it's a little droopy, but I took a picture of it for you.



I made the most delicious dinner last night, Pasta with Asiago Cheese and Spinach. I'm a big fan of Giada on Food Network. This might be her best recipe yet. My family literally devoured it. It even tempted Lowell, who has lost a lot of weight from being unable to eat, into have two small helpings. If you're a pasta fan, you'll love it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Printer, Yay!

I got Geoffrey through his new student orientation at FGCU on Monday and Tuesday, walking miles (it seemed) in the broiling sun with a heat index of 104 degrees. In between walking from information sessions, I drove home to check on Lowell and make sure he was OK. He seems to be recovering well and the worst thing he's experiencing is, believe it or not, back spasms. His massage therapist made a house call (thank heavens) and between that and muscle relaxers and tylenol, he's perking up a little.

Just before Lowell's operation I started researching printers. I was so tempted by Laser printers, but they are just so expensive. I finally found a bunch of reviews of the Canon Pixma 620 that says it's even better than the newer Pixmas, which came out a few months ago so it would be worth looking for this particular model. The reviews by consumers and CDNet, Amazon.com etc. are almost all glowing with regard to miserly ink use and great quality prints that are almost laser quality.

Yesterday I the old HP printer died and I found a Pixma 620 on sale for 50% off at Staples. They are clearing out stuff for the newer models. So I got this thing and it's like night and day, the difference in print quality. Such smooth transitions within colors, and no banding on photo prints. Plus it's one of those all-in-ones, it scans and copies too. I don't need the fax function since I already have a fax machine. Perfect!

What's cool is that this printer has the kind of ink where you only have to replace the colors you use up. It has the cyan, magenta and yellow inks, plus two blacks, one for text printing and one for graphic printing. The reviews said you can get over 2,000 pages before you have to replace the colors! I was having to buy new HP tri-color cartridges several times a month and even at Sam's, it was very expensive.

So I'm such a happy camper! This is a wireless printer too, so once I gird my loins to try setting up the wireless feature, everyone in the house can use it to print. Right now the kids have to put things on a key chain drive from their laptops then move over to my computer to print. Now they can just print directly from their own printers, and you can print directly from a memory card too.

Really, it's ridiculous how happy I am about this new printer. It doesn't take much to put a little joy in my life!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sea Glass Soap

New in my Etsy shop this morning, Sea Glass Handmade Soap! This soap has such a beautiful fragrance but it's hard to describe -- like that fresh, clean ozone smell of the shore, combined with seaside flowers and woods and a slight tangy citrus. It's been one of my favorites for years. I've added here it to my Sea Sprite Soaps shop today too. When it was time to take a photo of this, I was so glad I still had the sea glass we picked up on the shore in Maine on vacation a few years ago!



We'll be gearing up to make the trek to Fort Myers soon to visit Lowell in the hospital. It's about a 35-40 minute drive, depending on traffic. He's already calling at 7:30 this morning, grumpy, bored and lonely. I gotta get these lazy kids up and moving so we can drive up there and see my boy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Sigh of Relief

My DH had his surgery yesterday. Today the path results came in, looks like they got it all and there was nothing showing up in the lymph nodes they took out nearby, suggesting that the cancer hadn't spread. Within two hours of the surgery's completion, he was in a room and talking to us. It is such a relief to see him alert and responsive. This morning they had him up and walking around. It seems like a miracle, one I'm profoundly grateful for.

On Monday and Tuesday, Geoff and I have to attend his new student orientation at FGCU. I'm not sure when Lowell comes home from the hospital, but I may have to do some fancy footwork to attend orientation, get him home and take care of him while still attending to orientation. I think they might send him home Monday, but it might be a few days longer. He is very excited tonight about the possibility of having some toast tomorrow morning!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tangerine Lavender at Clearance Price

Today I marked down my Tangerine Lavender Handmade Soap to $3.00 per bar. I'm clearing stuff out to make room for new soaps. And new in my shop today is Sanibel Sunset handmade soap.

My Lemon Verbena soap made it into this Summer Days Treasury!

I'm feeling the urge to crochet something today. I don't know what. Maybe some cute, colorful little soap savers or a wash cloth for a freebie with larger orders.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pink Treasury

My Wild Honeysuckle soap was featured in this beautiful Pink Treasury today!

My DH cooked tonight and it was sooo good -- Barbecued chicken marinated in Mojo Criollo, sweet fresh corn, baked beans and salad. Good, hearty basic food. Not only that, he cleaned up the kitchen afterward when it was really my turn. I'm a lucky girl. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sweetest, Tiniest Little Sample Tubes

I was in a co-op to get a bunch of these adorable little lip balm tubes for samples and freebies to send out with orders. These are only about 1.5 inches tall and pretty fiddly to label. But they are just so damn cute!



Not much is happening around here right now. We are trying to rest and eat well and get my DH ready for his surgery next week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Insulting Spam Convos

You've probably received one of these if you've been on Etsy for very long. A new person with no feedback, Profile, shop, etc. wrote me a big long convo to "educate" me about something I already know about. The person assumed (always a big mistake) that I don't know very much about the ingredients I use and that they were scoring moral victory points for pointing out how wrong I am about my product tags. I had a long, erudite, empirically-based response planned but went for a pithy, profane and much more satisfying response instead. Haven't heard a word back since.

Still, it made me wonder about the kind of person that contacts a total stranger with an assumption that they know more than everyone else about a particular issue. The kind of busybody who likes to annoy other people in the guise of "educating" them. That approach does not fare well with me.

Here's another example -- I was on Etsy for less than a month when I received a nasty, venom-dripping convo from someone on a street team I'd just joined. She demanded I remove my lavender sachets from my shop because she owned the "copyright" on lavender sachets. You can imagine the hilarity this provoked around my home, where we actually have written and published books, regularly create copyrighted 3D products, etc. Phhhhft.

My DH is going to have surgery for colon cancer next Wednesday. We were hoping it could be done laparascopically, but no dice. We are glad we got the second opinion though, and the surgery will be done by a colo-rectal surgeon rather than a general surgeon. Good vibes, positive thoughts and healing energy are all appreciated.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oh What a Perfect Day...

I'm glad I spent it with my family (apologies to Lou Reed). That's what yesterday was. I got started early enough to buy a big pork shoulder roast, marinate it, then cook it for 4 hours to make real pulled pork barbecue sandwiches for dinner (Paula Deen recipe). I did the whole 9 yards, homemade coleslaw, baked beans, Cracker Barrel style green beans and peach cobbler for dessert. I think I blew out my culinary lobe on all that.

Vicky got home from her trip to Tampa just in time for dinner, and Geoff stayed in last night. We all watched "Dirty Dancing" together on TV (still love that movie), then most of "Titanic." Now, we have both of those movies on DVD, but somehow we didn't mind watching them with commercials on network TV. There's hardly anything better than nesting with your nearly grown children. It's so rare that we are all four home for dinner at the same time, and the cell phone isn't ringing to call one of the kids (or both) off somewhere.

Gawd, I hadn't watched "Titanic" in forever. I forgot how how much I enjoyed it. Even though I know how it ends, I still always kind of hope that Leo won't die and he and Rose will go off to California together in the end.

I need to make a couple of kinds of soap, but I feel unable to do anything energetic right now. Until we get my DH to the doctor for a second opinion tomorrow, I don't feel able to do anything that requires a high level of concentration.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cinnamon Vanilla Super Bubbly Soap

This super bubbly formula was so popular in Vanilla de Madagascar, I decided to try it with a new one -- Cinnamon Vanilla! It smells so spicy, sweet and delicious, it's hard not to take a bite. As always, it's in my Etsy shop too.

My DH and I sat down to enjoy a movie last night. We rented "The Wrestler." I've been a big Mickey Rourke fan since "Angel Heart." That was some movie! I don't know what I expected, but this wasn't it. After all the hype about his great performance in this movie, we were singularly unimpressed. It was more like a documentary and I can't get past how stiff and unnatural his face looks after all that plastic surgery. We gave up after 45 minutes and went to bed to read.

Vicky is in Tampa this weekend. She went to see The Wailers perform in St. Pete, and spending the night with her roommate-to-be at USF. I swear we hear more from her when she's away, via cell phone, than we do when she's home!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Graduation Photo

Here's our Geoffrey receiving his high school diploma. Yay Geoff!



My husband may need to have surgery next week for an intestinal polyp. Please keep him in your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Soap in Shop

Get Lei'd, a pretty pink and white swirled soap that smells fabulous, is finally in my shop. Oh how I wish we could have scratch 'n sniff online, you'd love it.

Last night my son and I watched Will Ferrell with Bear Grylls on Men vs. Wild. OMG it was so funny. You'd have to be a Will Ferrell fan to appreciate it, though. We laughed ourselves silly.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Natural" and Allergies

This is an interesting article stating that even natural perfumes can cause allergies. I don't know how many times I've heard about Princess and the Pea people who cannot tolerate anything that isn't "natural." On the other hand, I know a lot people have trouble with essential oils and other raw plant materials, to the point of becoming nauseated from the merest whiff of lavender or ylang ylang. It's something I've always known on an informal level, so it's interesting to see that confirmed.

I just made a giant batch of my Vanilla de Madagascar Super Bubbly soap. It's what I call my "break the rules" soap because it consists solely of coconut oil (75%) and cocoa butter (25%). Normally a high percentage of coconut in soap can be drying, but when it's combined with a lavish amount of cocoa butter and superfatted 20%, you get a divinely decadent, non-drying soap that lathers like a mofo. I'm amazed at how popular this one has been, even though it's dark brown and ugly as homemade sin. But it's pure indulgence and the fragrance is TDF.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Little Mermaid

I've been playing with my graphics and 3D programs this morning. Here is my newest render featuring my cute little sea sprite! Be sure to click the picture below to see it full size :)




We all went out to dinner last night at DaRuMa, kind of like Benihana's. It was a wonderful dinner, very relaxing. No squabbling, no one in a big hurry to go somewhere else, just a perfect family evening out. Then we went to the mall and Geoff a pair of Oakley sunglasses as his graduation present.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Macapuno Sorbet Handmade Soap

New in my shop today, Macapuno Sorbet! It smells like the Filipino dessert known as "mix mix." The scent is a wonderful, mouth-watering melange of the slurpy, mutant little Macapuno Coconut plus jackfruit, lychee, mango, pineapple and other luscious fruits. Also available in my Etsy shop.

My son Geoff graduated from high school yesterday! He was so cute, obviously trying to be unimpressed about it but clearly thrilled to be done with high school. We are too! He went to an all night party called "Project Graduation" hosted by the YMCA and came stumbling in at 4 am this morning. I think he'll probably sleep all day. Then we're taking him out to dinner at a Japanese steak house he loves, the kind where they flip your food around and charge a young fortune. But he's worth it!

We had a long talk with him about college last night, he is so excited about beginning university, living away from home (but not too far!) and all the new experiences he will have. It makes me so happy for him, and a little jealous. I remember that excitement of starting college and feeling like your whole future was ahead of you and anything is possible.

I saw a post about this in a forum I frequent, as an example of a beautifully designed site. I have to agree that Meomi Cloud House is adorable -- check out that complicated layout and the many subtle little animations! And they have some ridiculously cute free Desktops!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Get Lei'd Handmade Soap

Catchy name, huh? This smells divine, a beautiful blend of South Pacific flowers. I did a reverse swirl on this one, white on pink. It's going in the shop in a few more days. :)



Geoffrey graduates from high school today. Yay!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Soaps

Today I added 4 new soaps to my shop, and they all smell soooo good: Havana Nights, Tropical Fruit Slices, Mango Tango and Rosemary Mint! They are all available in my Etsy shop too. Here's the Tropical Fruit Slices.



Tomorrow my son, Geoff, graduates from high school. I keep saying it doesn't seem possible, but evidently it is. And it only seems like a few weeks ago Vicky went off to college, and now she has finished up her freshman year.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

It's more than just a day off, barbecues and sleeping in. In honor of Memorial Day and the sacrifices Americans have made for liberty, I'll let Abraham Lincoln speak for me:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave that last full measure of devotion -- That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

1,600 Etsy Sales!

Woo hoo, today I made it to 1,600 sales on Etsy!

Tonight for dinner I made the most fabulous Chicken Pot Pie. It's a recipe by the Neelys on Food Network. I love that couple, they are so cute! This recipe is so good, my family ate it like starving wolves. I made peach cobbler for dessert too. My DH s having a colonoscopy Tuesday morning and he can't eat any solid food tomorrow, so I thought I'd make sure he got a really good meal tonight.

Today I made a big batch of Lilac soap, and a smaller batch of Cinnamon Vanilla. Mmmmm.

Top Sellers List

It used to take 1,200 sales to add yourself to the EtsyWiki top sellers list. I was really happy to add myself when I hit 1,200 sales.

Then they changed the criteria to 1,600 sales. Well now, wouldn't you know it? I'm only 3 sales away from 1,600 and the top sellers list is broken. Wah. Maybe it will come back. I was really looking forward to adding myself to the list again.

Already I'm selling a lot of my Chocolovers. It's going fast. I can see I'll have to re-order a bigger supply of this fragrance right away. I just wish I could find one supplier who carried all of the fragrances I sell so I could get it all in one place. Instead I have to order some stuff here, some stuff there, etc. Shipping is a freaking killer.

Coming Tuesday -- Mango Tango!

My son has one more day of high school left. Tuesday is his last day. Yay!

In case you're wondering why I'm up and posting at 1:43 am, it's because of chocolate. I made the 5 Minute Chocolate Cake earlier. Argh. All that chocolate is keeping me awake now. And it wasn't that great, to be honest. It was kind of rubbery and hard. But I forced it all down. Heh.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pale Pink and White Swirls

I made a new soap yesterday and it smells amazing! It's called Get Lei'd, sorry for the pun, eh? But it's wonderful, the scent reminds me of YSL Paris, which I used to wear 24/7, until I was too old to be a jeune fille. Anyway, I swirled it in palest pink and white and I think it's going to be a knockout. Today I'm moving on to the Thai Coconut.

I bought so many new fragrances lately that it's starting to feel the teeniest bit like work to soap it all! :D

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coquina Beach Confetti

One of the most beautiful features of our South Florida beaches are the coquina shells you find literally all over the beach. Tiny little bivalves tinted the dearest, tender shades of pink, purple, gold and green, they sparkle so prettily as the seafoam washes over them.

These sweet little shells have inspired my newest soap, Coquina Beach Confetti. Lightly kissed with a dusting of white gold mica on top, they are as pretty as their fragrance -- a delicate Grapefruit and Jasmine blend. Also available in my Etsy shop. :)



I'm finally getting near the end of soaping all my new summer fragrances. Today it's going to be a giant batch of Thai Coconut, tomorrow it's going to be Get Lei'd. I still have Honey Patchouli and Sconset Sunset to do too. The Sconset Sunset is so pretty, it reminds me of the Crabree & Evelyn Nantucket Briar.

After the driest spring on record since 1932, and being under drought conditions for months, the rain has returned with a vengeance. We've had torrential downpours every afternoon for the past week, and last night it rained down in buckets all night long. We got over an inch of rain last night. It is very soothing to hear, and I slept like a baby.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Wild Honeysuckle Soap Featured

I've had an amazing string of luck in being featured in blogs lately. Today my Wild Honeysuckle Soap and Soap Sampler are featured in the TaraflyPhotos blog. Thanks Tara! And if you get a chance, take a look at Tara's delightful photo site, it's beautiful.

I have two new soaps in my shop! One is totally swoonworthy, Chocolovers, the other is a fun, fruity Passionfruit Papaya. They are also in my Etsy shop.

My son is down to 3 more days of high school, then he graduates. I just can't believe it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Featured in EtsyMoms Blog

Thanks to Jamie and all the wonderful sellers on the EtsyMoms team for featuring me on the EtsyMoms blog today. Check it out!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tropical Fruit Slices

I made this lovely, fruity, juicy soap today and did a three color swirl -- orange, yellow and green! It was not the sphincter-puckering experience I expected, as this is a very well-behaved fragrance oil from Southern Soapers. Take a peek!



This is one of a half dozen new FO's I've ordered for summer. I'm slowly soaping my way through them. So far I've made this one, Havana Nights (aiiiieee, it's amazing), Mango Tango and Passionfruit Papaya. Still have to make Thai Coconut, Macapuno Sorbet and Get Lei'd.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To all you moms celebrating today, Happy Mother's Day. Here is some fun reading for you, Postcards from Yo Mama.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Two New Soaps

Last year I sold a popular, spicily fragrant soap but my supplier discontinued the fragrance. I was truly bummed because it was a personal favorite of mine too. I am pleased that I got ahold of several lbs. of this fragrance recently and have returned Secrets of India handmade soap to my shop! Also back in stock, Coconut Lemongrass handmade soap. Both are also available in my Etsy shop.

It is such a pleasure having Vicky home for the summer now. I use the term "home" loosely, but still. She is either at the beach, at work, with friends, and beginning Monday, take summer courses at FGCU. That girl likes to stay busy!

Monday night is the Senior awards night at Geoff's high school. He is receiving awards for academics and because he's getting a Bright Futures scholarship for college. Then he graduates from high school May 29th. I can hardly believe it!

My new Soap Hutch mold arrived two days ago. It was a little tricky putting it together, but I got it. I can see now how great it will be to make 40+ bars per pour. Right now my biggest mold makes only 18 bars, so I am constantly making the same soap over and over again to keep up my stock. This will be so much better.

I have to figure out now the oils, water and lye to fill the mold to a specific depth, which will be 2.25 inches, the width of my bars. Then each of the 3 logs will be measured and cut in my trusty miter box. I'm a little nervous about making such a huge, heavy batch of soap because of my arthritic hands. Yesterday I got a nice big heavy duty pail with a pour spout to mix the soap in. I'm going to try to make some this afternoon.

Well, I did it! I actually figured out the volume just right for the height I wanted. Here's a photo of my new mold filled up with fresh soap (plastic wrap on top). Each of the logs will yield about 14 bars.



To all the moms out there -- an early Happy Mother's Day! My family is taking me out to lunch today instead of Sunday because it will be much less crowded.