Saturday, May 31, 2008

Prom 2008

No, I'm not going to Prom, but I've spent better part of the day getting my daughter ready for Prom. The girl who loves to hang out in the barn with cows cleaned up real nice. We even got some makeup on her for the occasion!

The back of her hair...

Her flowers...

The Happy Couple...who have now headed off to dinner and then prom in MY car!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Lilac Breezes Blowing in My Bedroom Window

I have had the most glorious breeze blowing through my bedroom window all day long. The lilac is in full bloom and sharing her sweet fragrance with me all day. I could resist no longer, I HAD to get outside and take in the breathtaking beauty of my lilacs.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Extended Weekend for Spotted Cow

My 9-5 job offers personal days to use and enjoy. While most of my staff greedily uses up their personal time early in the school year, I manage to just hold on to mine until the end of the school year. When life gets crazy near the end of the school year it helps to use those personal days to finish out the school year. Last weekend while everyone else enjoyed a 3 day weekend, I had a 4 day weekend. This week I have a 3 day weekend to enjoy before things get wild and crazy with a lot of extra catering jobs and all the end of the school year cleaning, paperwork, etc.

I've put off spring cleaning my house for far too long, and I've got a lot of soapy projects in the works for this weekend. The weather isn't looking like it is going to cooperate for Farmer's Market this weekend, so I've one less thing to worry about, and more time for other fun projects and activities.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For...

Ice Cream!

It looks like ice cream and smells like ice cream but I don't suggest eating any of this soapy confection. The great thing about our ice cream is that there are ZERO CALORIES! No inches will be added to the hips with the use of this glycerin soap. You will, however, end up with a great luxury bathing experience to indulge your senses.

We also have a unique Spa Washcloth that would make a great pairing with our Ice Cream Soap.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Father's Day is Around the Corner

Some of my best soap enthusiasts are men, believe it or not! While I carry soap fragrances meant to appeal to men, like Grandpa's Pipe shown above, it isn't always those men's fragrances that lure them in. Even so, I like to offer them because they make great personal gifts for special occasions like Father's Day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Farmer's Market Begins!

The first week is always hectic after having the winter off. I'm not the only vendor that would admit that they had baskets misplaced over the winter, or something they couldn't find. The first few weeks of Market are typically slow until school lets out and the fresh veggies start coming on. The first weeks are a commitment to folks that "we are back and ready for business". It is important for me, now in my 4th year at this market, because I have locals that come seeking me out in the early spring for more soap.

This week my son used the canopy to protect the food items in his booth. If you missed the post about how this came about you can read about it here. He sold cucpakes, cakes, iced cinnamon bread, jams, jellies and preserves. He was bored until the first sale came in, then he was all business and liking how this will work out for the summer.

I'm hoping to have my new canopy ready and here before next weekend, along with the new table coverings. Everything is coming up "spots" these days. I'm going to be loud and stand out in the crowd. No plain jane canopy tent for this chick! Will most definitely share the end result.

It was a very windy day yesterday. I was so glad I didn't have a canopy to contend with. I've always been a stickler about staking down the canopy even if it isn't windy or breezy in the mornings. You never know when a gust of wind might decide to kick up.

We had one vendor that lost their canopy in the wind yesterday. A gust of wind blew up and picked up her canopy, stakes and all, right out of the ground. It went airborne and landed on the brand spanking new canopy of the vendor next to her. The canopy for the vendor next to her was OK, but hers was toast.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

National Technical Honor Society Induction Ceremony

Ashley is our second child (the middle child). She was inducted into the National Technical Honor Society in a ceremony that took place last night at the High School.

I had the pleasure of going on stage with her and placing the pin on her sash.

Ashley's best friend and boyfriend of two years, Tony, received an award for Technical Excellence for the second year in a row. Don't they make a cute couple? He stands exactly 1 foot taller than her.

One big happy family...our oldest daughter was not able to attend the ceremony.
From left to right...Hippy Boy aka Josh (our son), Me, Ashley, Tony, My Husband

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Unpredictable Weather

A freak storm blew up late this afternoon and dumped a bunch of rain and hail upon us.

Close up of the hail. It came down so fast, and in less than a minute we had this much sitting on the ground. Unbelievable!

I haven't assessed the damage, if any, to the garden or flowers. No time to do that tonight. I have to go on stage with my daughter tonight for her induction ceremony into the National Technical Honor Society. Will blog with pictures about the ceremony tomorrow.

5/22/08 - The veggies and flowers are fine!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Setting Boundaries with a Home Business

One of the hardest parts about running a business from home is the respect for time and knowing when to shut it off. Being in control is the key to success when setting boundaries.

I had the most outstanding beautician in the midwest that was very good at doing just that. She worked out of her home in an adjoining room that was closed off to the rest of her home and she was great about leaving the exterior door to the shop open for customers if they showed up early for the first appointment of the morning or afternoon. Starting time was a set time and she didn't step foot inside the shop until that time.

Scheduling was precise and executed with perfection so she could shut down for lunch time and/or end her work day on time and "go home". She would turn down the volume on the separate phone line and walk away. At quitting time, she would not answer the phone because she was "off the clock".

Any of her family calling just to talk during business hours were quickly thwarted and told when they should call back...after hours. Her family scheduled hair appointments the same as everyone else. She was very good about turning work off and on without offending anyone. I found her approach between business and personal life to be very balanced, but she had to be in control in order to make it work.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Many Colors of Crochet

I've been crocheting my fingers to the bone as of late. I couldn't resist taking new photos to show off the many colors that have stock piled. It looked so cool, I just HAD to update the photos in my store.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gardening Frenzy

It's been a hectic week, but gardening is so relaxing to me. There is something exhilirating about digging in the dirt and seeing the fruits of your labor blossom and grow before your eyes. I have to admit I've never had a freshly planted garden look this good as I never buy plants this mature. And this is the first time I've been given all of the plants by my zealous daughter. I should have made the garden a touch bigger and will be fussing and fuming later this summer when I have to get around the tomato plants...whatever was Ashley thinking...18 tomato plants and 18 pepper plants??? There are 3 different varieties of each, so we'll all be surprised to see what we end up with. This will be a fun garden of guessing. I already know that one marker that said lettuce was clearly not lettuce but rather pepper plants. Everything else looked like what it was supposed to be.

After getting the garden planted, I made my way around the house to check on my perennial flowers. I see there is a lot of weeding that needs to be done. The Bleeding Hearts were smiling back at me today.

And the Lilac bush is so close to bursting open.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Creative Thinking Saves the Day

My son is the lucky elected soul to help with Farmer's Market this year. My oldest daughter no longer lives at home, my younger daughter is working on Saturday's as is my husband. When I mentioned Farmer's Market was starting up again his exact words were "Good luck with that!".

As I have a hard time managing the tent and set up alone, and don't feel it is fair to rely on my "neighbor" vendors at market every week, I need someone to assist me. When I told him he was manning the booth next to me, he became interested in the idea. I decided there wasn't enough room under one tent to house the soap, candles and bath accessories AND all of the jams, jellies, extra garden produce and baked goods. I mentioned that he could split the profits with his sister from that booth each week IF they help with the garden, baking, canning, etc...and he has to sit in the booth each week (weather permitting). His exact words... "Now you're talking my language!" I was relieved he didn't say he was going to be praying for rain every weekend. My daughter is also enthusiastic in that she will be broadening her baking/cooking skills with this endeavor.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Setting an Action Plan for Goals

I feel fortunate that I can "double dip" with the information and advice I receive from training I take for my 9 - 5 job, as it also applies and relates to running my business. Yesterday in my class we learned about setting goals and setting them in motion with an action plan. I'm guilty of setting goals, but not having an action plan to see those goals being met. This is what I learned about goal setting today.

Break down general goals...Most often, the goals I set are generalized, which could in essence be broken down into several specific goals. I have to force myself to move beyond broad topic goals and set smaller specific goals.

Dates...not just today's date, but the target date you would like to complete your goal.

Outcomes or results...determine measurable outcomes. How will you know that you accomplished the goal? What will change by accomplishing this goal?

Resources...what do you need or what is required to accomplish the goal.

Barriers...what might impact reaching the goal? What will you do to overcome those barriers/obstacles?

Steps...what is necessary to achieve the outcome. What will you do to accomplish your goal? List those who will be responsible and a timeline. will you evaluate the success of this plan?

I can definitely see the advantages of setting goals in this format. Goals can be well thought out and broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. While the broad goal may not be met in its entirety, a piece or two may have been and that brings you closer to reaching that much broader goal.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cotton Bath Puff Mania

Lately I have been making a lot of these Cotton Bath Puffs. Good thing since they've been selling quite well from my store. Made with 100% cotton yarn, they are kinder to the skin and come from a renewable resource.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rachael Ray Publishes My Heirloom Recipe!

I am so excited! Thanks to Anne-Marie for suggesting that I should submit my recipe for Latvian Potato Salad to Rachael Ray! I ended up submitting the recipe as an Heirloom Recipe and received word yesterday, after a month of waiting, that it had been accepted for publication on the Racheal Ray website! WOO HOO!!!

Snuggles ~ AKA Mr. Mischief ~ And His Latest Etsy Purchase

Ok, so the shirt isn't an Etsy purchase, but anyone who would come up with this sort of idea would probably make a ton of money off folks if they did. My daughter spent a wad of money on the shirt and the cat absolutely HATES it. He doesn't go far when you put it on him. If he misbehaves you only have to hold up the shirt and he'll disappear at the speed of light.

He didn't disappear when his latest Etsy purchase from our friend Linda at All About Cats arrived in the mail.

The boy went mad, he went wild and crazy and we didn't hear from him for hours afterwards.

Monday, May 12, 2008

We Have a Winner!

A little late...but we have a winner! I had my daughter draw the winner for the Lost Sock Memorial Day Blog Contest and she selected Tulip's Treasure Box. Thank you to everyone who participated in the blog contest. Until next time...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Spring Bloom"

The EtsyBloggers Street Team Blog Carnival theme this week is "Spring Bloom". I do quite well with my flower garden. Where I have struggled is with my business. I've learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way. The business name I was using just wasn't clicking, and I hadn't found my "niche" in the B & B market. There are so many soapmakers out there so I had to ask myself...what sets my product ahead of the rest? How can I improve upon what I'm doing and make my product/image stand out? It's not one of those things that just happened overnight for me.

I have been in this "re-do" business process for well over a year. I don't have a ton of money or an unlimited credit card to conduct business. I pay as I go and do what I can with what I have and the sometimes limited funds available. I used to let the money issue stand in the way of my goals. Goals are good to have, but I've learned to work on the realistic goals and keep the "fantasy goals" at bay as a higher goal to achieve down the road.

Three of the most noteworthy successes I've achieved over the past 3 months is that
1. I've turned my love of crochet into a marketable product that goes along with my love of soapmaking.
2. I utilize more of my closest friends that are not soapmakers for brainstorming and ideas. It's a win, win situation for both of us as I gain a better sense of what to focus on for my next project and they get the samples and freebies to test out for me.
3. I had to get very serious about making this business work and stop allowing "obstacles" stand in the way of success.

I feel as though I must be doing something right if I keep getting orders, and repeat customers already.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cozy ~ EtsyBlogger for the Month of May

I am a realitively new member of the EtsyBloggers Street Team...still trying to find my way around, but having fun along the way. Each month the team feaures one member and everyone blogs about them. It is a great way to help each other boost our stores and gain some valuable frienships along the way.

Congratulations to Cozy from A Cozy Life for being chosen as this month's EtsyBlogger. She is a very creative individual and a very active member of our group. Here is an example of the creativity she offers in her store.

Cozy also has a great blog to read.

Congratulations Cozy!

Boasting Rights for a Mom

My daughter, Ashley, came home from school today with a letter bearing some wonderful news. She has been accepted for induction into the National Technical Honor Society in a ceremony later this month. Students inducted into the society must be active in community involvement and volunteering. Grades in their program studies as well as regular High School classes must be at the Honor level. The program instructors must nominate the student as "worthy" of becoming a member of the Society. Once the student meets those qualifications, they are required to write a resume, obtain three letters of reference and go through an intimidating interview process. We are so proud of Ashley and her accomplishments as a Junior. The sash and tassle she receives this year will be worn at graduation next year.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Gardening Is Fun

I have always had a garden from the time I was growing up. Every place we have lived I have put in a garden. It comes natural for me because it is something I have always done.

When we moved to Vermont 5 years ago, the lot our house sits on is large enough to accommodate a nice size garden, but it was cramped quarters with the dog. To avoid the frustrations of keeping a Senior dog out of the garden, I chose to hold off on a garden until she was gone. She passed away on February 28.

Knowing early on that we would be putting in a garden, my daughter eagerly chimed in and said they were planting seeds in the greenhouse at RTCC as part of their program studies. She got to select the vegetables to plant. She went crazy...cabbage, squash, cucumber, corn, tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers, lettuce, and more. Friday she had to bring the plants home. I came home expecting seedlings, not full grown plants! The corn stands about a foot tall. The squash already has blooms. I'm itching to get my hands in the dirt, but it is still too cold in Vermont to set the plants just yet.

I have my Gardener's Friend Soap ready and waiting to help with the clean up. Ever since I started making soap (8+ years ago), I have made this soap formula every spring. The ground luffa is added for exfoliation. The super-fatted soap is formulated to aid in bringing moisture back into those dry hands after gardening and is scented with a delicate hint of lettuce and rain combined with soft spearmint, a fragrance that pleases those of us that are the garden freaks of the world.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Blog Contest for Lost Sock Memorial Day

May 9 is Lost Sock Memorial Day. Are you guilty of keeping that one sock because someday the other one will be found? Do you have hoards of misfit socks awaiting the safe return of the mate? I'm seeking out stories, rants, and more about lost socks. Blog about it or find an article on the Internet then post the link in the comments for this post. Don't wait too long, because at 5 PM EDT on May 9 I will draw one winner to receive 4 bars of soap from me! I'll even let you chose which flavors you'd like.

Lumpy Rug Day???

In my early morning surf on the internet I happened upon an interesting site that lists Bizarre American Holidays. I love their opening line on the site "Welcome! America is a wonderful place. Only in the USA can we celebrate the glory of egg salad, dictionaries, and procrastination."

I decided to see what bizarre celebration I should be observing today. Lumpy Rug Day? I don't know about you, but I HATE lumpy rugs. I prefer them to be flat, laid down neatly and if there is fringe on the ends it must be neat. It's just one of those things that I'm extremely anal about. And it drives me insane when the cat comes flying through the house like a torpedo and ends up pulling all of the rugs into a lumpy mess.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pulling My Hair Out!

Last night I decided to "retire" early and grabbed the latest issue of School Nutrition published by the School Nutrition Association, so I could relax in bed and read every last word in the magazine. About halfway through the first article my daughter announces, "Mom, your computer is acting funny." Funny how it is the family computer until it misbehaves...

Every worst nightmare came true. No warning she was getting sick, not a thing. But staring back at me...a black screen and the machine is begging for the boot disk. As the computer didn't come with one, and I don't even have a floppy drive on the computer, I was perplexed by this request. So I've been told, Vista doesn't require a boot disk. (Just in case those of you running on Vista ever encounter a similar situation.)

Geek Squad is coming to the rescue in the morning, but in the meantime I'm working off of a borrowed computer.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spotted Cow Soaps offers Dead Sea Mud Soap

I have had many comments about my Dead Sea Mud Soap that it looks like granite. Dead Sea black mineral mud, found in its uniquely natural state, is comprised of layer upon layer of sedementary clay formed over thousands of years. This mud contains Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Bromides, and Sulfates, as well as trace elements of Lithium, Strontium, Iodine, Selenium, Chromium, and Zinc. It is beneficial in the cleansing and revitalizing of the skin. The mud we use in our soap is a high quality cosmetic grade mud.

The deep earthy tones of Frankincence and Myrrh bring everything together for a true Dead Sea Spa-like experience. Our Dead Sea Mud Soap is made with Olive Oil for a truly authentic Dead Sea experience. The only thing missing is the sea.