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!