Friday, April 29, 2011

Mama Bear Hug

From the first moment I set eyes on him, I have just wanted to give him a  big mama bear hug that would protect him from all the crap that can happen.  That hug has given him the knowledge that he is loved.  It has given him the confidence to be the person he is but it has not stopped the crap.  And that fact is just annoying me to no end at the moment.   It has also put me in extreme "mama bear" mode, if you know what I mean.  Grrr.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Full of Gumption

I have never been much of a go-getter.  More of a "if -it's-meant-to-happen-it-will-happen-so-i-am-just-going-to-wait-for-it-to-happen".  That kind of makes me sound like a total slacker but I wasn't.  I studied hard and I worked hard for what I achieved.  I just never walked up to a person and said: "I deserve this award/job."  That all changed last week.

Chocolate Swirl Soap
At the craft show last weekend, through talking to others I found out about a couple of upcoming craft shows.  I came home, discussed it with Mike and we came to the conclusion that if I wanted to make a go of selling my soap, well, I kind of had to go for it.  The next thing I know I am calling strangers, filling out applications and signed up for two upcoming craft shows -- making things happen.  Who is this woman?!  I don't know but I do know that she loves making soap and is mighty proud of the soap she makes.

Coconut Lime and Carrot Honey Soaps
 The above Carrot Honey Soap was made with carrot juice, honey and beeswax.  The beeswax gives the soap a really hard, silky texture.  I left the soap unscented because I wanted to let the ingredients speak for themselves.  I was also curious as to how it would smell.  It has a slight scent that reminds me of baked goods.  i love the feel of this soap.

I like to use mostly essential oils to add fragrance to my soaps but occasionally I cannot resist trying some fragrance oils.  Coconut Lime was one of those fragrance oils.  It smells sweet and refreshing and reminds me of Jamaica where Mike and I were married.

Chai Tea Soap

My Chai Tea Soap is made with chai tea, of course, and is scented with cinnamon and clove essential oils and topped off with choclate shavings and cocoa powder.   Warm and spicy.  Okay, so those aren't real chocolate shavings but they sure do look like the real thing.  The cocoa powder, however, is real.

As a result of my recent bout of gumption, I won't be adding my soap to my etsy shop for at least a couple of weeks.  I want to make sure I have enough inventory for my local shows.  I apologize if you were waiting for the soap to be in my shop.  If there was a particular soap you were interested in that I have talked about here or in previous posts, contact me and I may be able to help you out.  Gosh, that sounds so vain, like I am expecting you all to want to buy my soap.  I don't but felt the need to explain the lack of soap in the shop.  There, did you just see that?  That old lack of gumption attitude sneaking in?  Shoo, old attitude, shoo.

  Happy Monday all!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Resolution

The boys awoke this morning to find non-traditional monsters in their baskets.

That is Tiffin on the left and Rictus on the right.  Both are waving "hello".  We met the monsters and their creator Jennifer last week at the craft show and the boys fell instantly in love with these guys.  I knew that they would end up in their baskets this morning.  Each monster is unique and there will never be another Tiffin or Rictus.  Kind of like the boys themselves.  They have been the boys' constant companions all day and even joined us for a pancake breakfast.  Since he is a peanut butter loving monster, Rictus had peanut butter on his pancake, of course. He may not like peanut butter himself but Keegan has ensured that there is a steady supply of PB available for Rictus.

While the boys were surprised with Easter monsters, we were surprised with milder temperatures and a little bit of sun peeking through the clouds today.  (It has been a cold, wet, pretty miserable spring.)  I was thus inspired to get outside and do some much needed cleaning up in the garden.

I have to admit that I am not much of a gardener but I am determined to be a better gardener than years gone by.  It's kind of like a gardening/spring  resolution.  I don't mind doing the physical work.  I quite like it, at times.  My biggest problem seems to be that I can not visualize the garden:  what should go where, how big will the plants grow, how will the plants look in two years.  I find it overwhelming.  This year, I am just going to work with the plants we already have (that is, get them under control), move things around if I need to and WEED.  I hate weeding but it needs to be done.  So the gardening books are out and I am finding my inspiration.

After having said that I am going to work with what we already have in the garden, I am now showing the lavender seedlings I started a few weeks ago.  Technically, I started the seeds before I made the resolution to work with the plants we already have so I haven't broken my resolution  . . .yet.  The seedlings are doing quite well and I am excited to add them to the garden.  One can never have too much lavender.

Here is a question for all the gardeners:  Our soil has quite a high clay content.  When preparing the beds two years ago, we added black soil but I notice large clumps of clay each spring.  Is there something I should be doing each spring to keep the soil healthy?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

And Then the Phone Rings

I am not one for chatting on the phone.  I did go through a phase of talking on the phone when I was a teenager but that was a rite of passage.  I do confess to watching episodes of Charles in Charge while talking to my best friend on the phone.  But that was then.  Now the phone is just a means of getting a message to someone quickly.  I can usually think of something I would rather do than talking on the phone.  However, I do have one friend that I love talking to on the phone.  Yesterday afternoon, I got the chance to just sit down and listen and talk and laugh.

This particular friend moved away several years ago.  Before children, the drive wasn't a big deal and we managed to see each other every few months.  Then we had four children between us and with each new child, the time between visits would get longer as it became more difficult to work around the schedules.  We now see each other about once a year.  We also tend to go quite awhile between talking on the phone.  I sense that my aversion to the phone is mostly to blame.  Occasionally over the last couple of years, I begin to think that we may have grown apart in the true physical sense.  It happens.  I don't want it to happen but sometimes distance makes the heart forget.

And then the phone rings.

I recognize the number and answer with a familiar "Hey!"  (I love that it freaks her out every time that I answer the phone knowing it is her.)  It has been almost a year since we last talked but we pick up as if it was only last week.  Do you know the friend that just makes you laugh without trying?  That just makes you happy that you know her?  That makes you stay up way past your bedtime because you just enjoy being with her?That's her.  An hour and a half passes and we say good-bye because we have to go pick up our respective children.  (Upon arrival at the school, I am informed that I was scheduled to volunteer that afternoon.  Oops.  It's not your fault.  I just forgot to look at the schedule.  I made up for it this afternoon.)  

I could go on and on about the friendship.  I could tell you about the time we were mistaken for a lesbian couple while shopping for beads together and how we didn't realize what the guy was implying until we had gotten home and opened a bottle of wine.   I could tell you about how supportive she is.  I could tell you about her love for 80s music.  But I won't.  i will tell you that I am going to see her next week and will get to spend the whole day with her and her girls.  I am thrilled to beans.  I don't even know if that makes sense but that's how happy I am.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dancing in the Kitchen

Two nights ago, as I was tucking Quinn in for the night, I looked out his window as I pulled the curtain shut.  Looking down from above, I could see the nieghbours' feet through the window in their door.  They were dancing in their kitchen with their dog at their feet.  It was a really beautiful moment.  A part of me wanted to take a picture but, one, I didn't have my camera nearby and, two, that would be just a little bit creepy, wouldn't it?  So instead I decided to draw the moment as best I can.

On a couple of occasions, I have attempted to dance with Mike in the house.  It either ends with him wiggling his arms like a spaz and bumping me all around or spinning me until I'm dizzy.  Not a moment you want to capture on film but still a special moment.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bust or Bliss?

On a cold, wet, very wet Saturday, my first craft show happened.  Here are some pictures of my table.

Two little blue birds to greet people.

I used a drawer from my bedside table to display some of my bar soaps.

I placed my soap disks on stacks of old books to give some dimension to my table.  I also couldn't resist the opportunity to use books.

These are little pots of sugar lip scrub.  I don't think I have mentioned the lip scrub.  I developed the recipe a couple of months ago.  It's a yummy little exfoliation treat for the lips that works really well.

I placed my business cards in one of my grandmother's tea cups.  I am excited because I ordered some pretty new cards that should be here in a couple of weeks.  In the background, you can see larger pots of hand and body sugar scrub.  After a little bit of trial and error, I also developed this recipe a couple of months ago.  Honestly, it is really hard work having to test the scrubs but somebody had to do it.  I offered the body scrub in two scents.   A Piece of Cake is a combination of chocolate and vanilla while Citrus Burst combined lemon, orange and pink grapefruit essential oils.

 So there it is.  That was my table but how was the craft show itself?  Interesting question.  Truthfully, as a craft show, it was a bit of a bust.  I don't know if it was due to the terrible weather or a lack of advertisement but we didn't have a strong turnout which was a shame because, although it was a small show, it was a really good group of vendors.  There was pottery, hand stamped and printed cards, candles,home made preserves and chocolates, hand stamped sterling silver jewelery, children's clothing, a textile artist that made the most awesome sock monsters that two little boys now covet and hand bags.  See, good variety, right?  The people just did not come.  The more seasoned vendors were less than impressed but it was still a positive first experience for me.  I was happy with my display and now know that I was well prepared.  I was proud of my products.  I received good feedback about my products and met some new people.  And I also sold some soap.  With the low cost of the table and the fact that everything I used for my display were items I had on hand, I even made a little money.    So bust?  Maybe.  But it got my toes wet and I am ready for more.  I packed my suitcases after the  show even more determined to sell my soap.   I am now searching out my next opportunity for a show and preparing my etsy shop to include my soaps.

What may have been a bust for some, was a bit of bliss for me.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Defender of All Things Lego

Today is Super Hero Day at school.  Faced with the challenge of fulfilling a little boy`s desire to be a super hero without paying $40 for a costume, Keegan and I brainstormed.  Born from this clash of wills, skills and realistic expectations . . .

Lego Man!  Defender of all things Lego!   Apparently, this is the Lego Man pose, wielding his sword.  Yes, a sword,  And yes, that is my shadow.  We took this just before running off to school and I forgot about the position of the sun.  So we have Lego Man and his trusty sidekick Shadow Girl.

There is Shadow Girl again.

Lego Man`s powers all lie in his hat.  I think it confers powers of speed upon all who wear it since I have never seen Keegan get dressed so quickly for school.

Keegan was thrilled with his hand made costume.  Upon seeing the finished hat, he said, ``Oh, that`s just sick.``  That means he likes it.   That kid cracks me up.

I am now off to pick up Lego Man from school.  Happy weekend, everyone!  

Ready and Waiting

The craft show is tomorrow and I am ready.  I did a mock set up today.  I wanted to ensure that what I had envisioned in my head would actually work as a display.

Then everything was packed up . . .

and now I wait.  I'll share pictures from the sale later on in the weekend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back to the Library

Last week the boys and I went to the library for the first time in three months.  Keegan had been complaining about not having any books to read.  Not true but I knew what he meant.  As much as I love outings to the bookstore, there are only so many trips that the budget can handle.  Not that we don't enjoy the library.  I loved going to the library as a child.  I remember sifting through the books, sitting at the window seat overlooking the river and then coming home with a tower of books.  Weekly trips to the library have been part of our life since Keegan was just a wee little man.   That is, they were a part of our life until three months ago.

Confession time.  I am horrible at returning books to the library on time.  I have the best intentions and I try, I really do.  I write it in my day planner but this seldom helps since there are years, yes, years, when I don't use a day planner.  I sign up for the electronic reminders from the library through my email but have yet to receive one notice.  The last librarian who suggested I sign up for the email notices did not believe me when I told her I already had.  She didn't actually use the words but I knew what she was thinking.  So the due dates pass unnoticed until the phone calls from the library begin a week later.  Perhaps I wouldn't find that automated voice so antagonistic if she could just pronounce my name correctly.  So three months ago, the fines had climbed their way to the point where I just could not bring myself to pay them.  They were not as bad as that sounds.  Christmas had just passed and I felt guilty about paying library fines at the time.  Although the fines were not terrible, I had reached the point where my library privileges were blocked.  Ugh.

Back to the present.  I sucked it up, paid the fines and the boys once again enjoyed browsing through the stacks.  As they browsed, I browsed and I spotted this book.

Interesting.  Into the bag it went and we headed home.

There is just something about cutting paper.  Quinn was only about 18 months old when he began using scissors to cut paper.  Keegan had not been that young but I think that had something to do with being a first-time parent rather than ability.  Anyways, watching his brother, Quinn pretty much insisted on having scissors too.  He would sit there for about an hour, just cutting paper into little pieces.  He loved it.  Keegan seems to be more interested in cutting holes in his socks.  Oh well.  To each his own.  So armed with this book, last week I began folding, drawing and cutting.

I now know what 18 month-old Quinn was feeling.  It is fun.  It is relaxing.  It is cutting paper.

Every couple of days, I have to cut a little paper.  I now have a little collection of paper cuttings scattered throughout the house.  I like looking at them swirling in the drafts.   I'm not sure what I will do with them, if anything.  They may become cards in the future.  They may just decorate our living space.  Who knows?  But I think I'll keep cutting.

Friday, April 8, 2011

In Full Swing

Just over a week until the craft show -- my first craft show -- and the preparations are in full swing.

I have spent the better part of the last month trying to figure out how I would like to package my soaps.  I wanted the packaging to reflect the handmade nature of the soap but I also wanted it to reflect me, the soap maker.  There were a few other criteria.  I wanted the packaging to have a natural feel to it.  Not too froo-froo, if you know what I mean.  I didn't want any cellophane or plastic.  I wanted people to be able to smell, see and touch the soap.  Finally, I wanted to use, as much as possible, materials I already on hand.  So yesterday I sat down with a few ideas and various supplies and set to work.

  My one expense has been the above stamp.  I contacted Char, a local artist who recently began making hand carved stamps, and asked if she would be interested in designing and making a stamp for me.  She enthusiastically answered yes and within 24 hours, my stamp was designed and carved.  I have to say I love the stamp.  It adds that little something extra to my packaging that I would not have been able to do on my own.    Thanks again, Char.

For the bars of soap, I am using a strip of paper from an old book, yarn and a tag.  The ingredients are listed on the back of the tag.  I think the stamp looks perfect against the printed words.

For the round bars of soap, I am just using yarn and a larger tag, again with the ingredients listed on the back.

I had a flash of inspiration in the shower this morning for my chocolate fudge soap.  I am presenting this soap as little pieces of self-indulgent chocolate.

I am so happy with the packaging.  I realized last night as I was wrapping more soap ( with still more to wrap)  that the packaging is just me.  The pages of an old book, the yarn and the soap.  Don't forget that sweet little bird.  Outside of my family, these are things that give me immense pleasure, in one form or another.   I am satisfied, knowing that next Saturday I will be presenting a little bit of me on that table at the craft show.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Rhassoul Facial Soap

I am really excited about my latest soap:  Rhassoul facial soap.  This soap has all kinds of good-for-your-skin stuff in it:  olive oil, shea butter and coconut milk.  But what makes this soap extra special is the addition of Rhassoul clay.

Also known as Moroccan lava clay, Rhassoul clay has been used for centuries as a soap, shampoo, and hair conditioner.  It is rich in trace minerals, silica, magnesium, potassium and calcium, the necessary components of healthy skin.  It cleanses, detoxifies, reduces redness and flakiness and improves skin clarity, texture and elasticity.  

Four bars of rhassoul soap are now curing and will be in my shop in about 4 weeks.  The curing process results in a milder and longer- lasting bar of soap.  It should be five bars but I'm keeping one for myself.  I can do that, you know.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Moments of Connection

"There are moments in a man's life when he will feel alone and moments, sometimes with friends and sometimes with lovers and sometimes even when he is alone, that he won't feel alone at all, when he will feel connected to something calming and reassuring, something bigger than him.  These are the moments of love and tenderness, of tears and sorrow, of honey and salt.  These are the moments of connection."

Stuart McLean