Unforeseen Circumstances

We all know what that means and it’s never good, is it?  Something bad has happened and it will no doubt impact us in in varying levels of pain from tiny twinges to abject misery.  Maybe it’s a slight bump in the road, but then again, it could be a gaping pothole that covers the entire roadway with sheer drops on both sides. Then there’s the happy in-between.  I suppose last night fell into that category.  At least looking back at it now, it’s somewhere in the middle. At 1:30 am, it felt more like the sheer rock face on the side of the road dropping away.

After all the technology glitches were squarely in my rearview, I began to relax a little and settle into a new rhythm, learning a little something new everyday with iMac computers.  I was enjoying learning this new skill set.  Still, production waits for no man – or soap maker- in this case, so it was time to stop tinkering around and make something that would carry our product line into Fall & Winter ’17/’18. Sounded simple enough, yes?

No.

A lovely Green Tea Nectarine batch was completely with no problems at any point except the supply of this particular custom blend needed replenishing, so that, too, was done with no fanfare. Score two for two on that day.  The batch was a bit on the soft side so it waited an extra day before being cut though in reality it could have waited another two or three and been all the better for it. Still, as most other soapers know, we can’t wait to see how the swirls turned out, so to the cutter it goes.

Fine.

Another day passes and I’m able to tidy it up without smearing it since it’s still on the softer side and it’s then picture taking time.  One of my favorite things to do besides making a batch is taking its picture.  I also like to tinker with the images using PicMonkey.  (If you haven’t tried this program and love taking pictures, you really need to check into it sometime.)

Loaf on the cutter

I get some lovely shots and tweak a few like the one above to make it a bit more on the thoughtful, nostalgic side with a soft, muted color saturation.  Way fun!

It’s rather late, about 11:30 on a Wednesday night when I finally go to the computer to upload the images onto the web site and ….nothing is there.

I’ve had this web site for years, all my product pics are there along with descriptions that wax poetic enough to tempt the shoppers, but all those images are…gone.  Nothing is on the page but divider lines, the page title, and a testimonial at the top just above the coupon codes.  It’s all text.  No photos!  What the what?

I fretted, jumped between outside website window and editing side window to see what was going on and nothing could explain what had happened to all my beautiful stuff.  My head ached, my chest hurt, my eyes were grainy from straining to find something to tell me what to do to fix this yet nothing came forward.  I finally had to take a sleep aid to knock me off my feet, but even that didn’t go far enough.  I still stumbled out of the bed at 5:30 thinking I heard something in the house that shouldn’t be there.  Fumbling around in the pre-dawn darkness, nothing out of the ordinary revealed itself, so I staggered back to bed and stepped onto something that had me hopping around all the way back to the bed.  After the adrenaline dissipated, I nodded back off to sleep only to pop back up, gritty-eyed again at 7:30.

Lousy night doesn’t even come close to describing that night’s non-sleep.

Not one to give up without a fight, I went back to the web site and realized the pages that had no products listed were a standard page and would need to be made into a category page in order for products to show up since two other pages had images still on them and those pages were category pages.  So……..all the pages were switched to category pages by mid-day today as my mind went to the why of this change in the way my site was being handled.  Why now?  I’ve had this site for many years and the products have always shown up just fine as standard pages with single listings.  Now, all of a sudden the page requirements have changed?  Where was the notification of these changes in page requirements? Was there a notification?

For those of you that work at home, you know this pain.  You know the anxiety at 1;30 or 3:30 in the morning when things have imploded on your site and it’s all on you to put things right again because you’re a solo-preneur.  It isn’t always smooth days, making stuff, selling stuff, hauling deliveries to the post office and checking our bank balances.  Some days we have to wear many hats, running on very little sleep and hope nothings else fails us as a result.

It’s much like having a very active toddler around – all the time.  They never grow up, they’re always demanding our time and attention, they’re exhausting, yet we love it and we carry on.  (I’ve had four of those two, two were twins, so I know this feeling well.)

The site is updated, cluttered cleared away and tonight I can sleep the sleep of the content knowing nothing else has failed.  I hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New twist

Time marches on, things change, kids grow up, our homes evolve, family scatters, but sometimes we can feel like we’re standing still while the world marches past, moving inexorably forward.  Shouting down the marchers does no good.

That was more or less how I felt for a while. Clicking along, merrily, perhaps a bit cocky and overly confident in the day-to-day workings I’d churn out online in formulations, label production, graphic design, blog posts, Instagram & Twitter moments then Bam! It all came to a screeching halt.

Windows 10 ran an update,(cue ominous music) which did not play well with others.  My computer lost sight of several things – first, our network settings, so trying to get that back caused us to lose our sound card codec settings.  Trying to get those back, we then lost the ability to save custom settings for region, date and time of day.

The forced updates Windows began doing with its roll-out of 10 was a complete disaster to the desktop.  The laptop fared far better and still clicks along just fine.  I suppose in part because it’s newer.  It began life here on 8, which we could hardly wait to leave in the dust to upgrade to 10.

10 worked fine for a while on the desktop that began life here on 7, but then suddenly we could not get any wi-fi signal, so YouTube buffered constantly before dropping out completely. Being a huge fan of Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and streaming online at various channels’ websites, that’s like being denied air.  Unsustainable.

The fixes to all of those issues did nothing to repair the situation.  There was no going back as another of the casualties was the ability to set aside a custom portion of our drive to rollback dates.  It wouldn’t go back beyond the date of the fatal update so all hope and hardware was lost.

The time had come.  My desktop was going to have to be retired from full time operations.  It’s still a great computer, but the internet connectivity is unreliable.  Still a lot of my files are on there and I need them daily.  So, it will still be used for offline work mostly, though it does still connect to some ghostlike form of someone’s network.  Don’t know whose network it’s latched onto since none are listed.  My 20 year era of faithful dedication to PCs had ended.

Welcome to the wonderful world of iMac!  It’s a brave new world and so far I’m loving this and wondering now why I waited so darn long.  Yes, a couple of my programs aren’t Mac compatible, but the PC still can serve that purpose.  I’m fine with that.  Now to learn how to find everything I typically use all the time and quit scrolling on a wheel mouse in the wrong direction. My iMac is an older model, but new to me.  Has plenty of power, lots of memory, runs on Sierra, updated to the latest iTunes so this chick is a happy camper.  Everything seamlessly syncs if you want it to.  It never fails to ask first and I like that!  So here’s to another long & happy relationship with Apple computers and the bright, shiny world of iMac!

Well, here it is again…

….the end of yet another summer and I have to say I’m rather disappointed in this one.  Too much cloud cover, too many rainy days, not enough sunshine for my thin blooded self, but i’m sure the green things love it.

With the end of summer and school about to begin again, we start thinking about cooler temps, leaves changing colors & falling away and all those fun (and expensive) holidays looming just over the horizon.  I start thinking about having oatmeal in the mornings with my caffeine jump-start of choice – Pepsi.  I’ve never learned to like coffee, sorry java lovers!  So with those thoughts rumbling through my brain the products to come are now coming to the forefront on my mental To Do List.

Here are a few returning scents I plan to make this year:

Cafe Mocha

Snow Witch

Ultimate Christmas – maybe.

I say maybe to that last one because it was not a huge seller last year but the scent takes you home for the holidays in such a memorable way that it’s hard not to use it in something.  I might just stick with making wax melts of the spicy scents that can discolor or seize and use the others that don’t produce gremlins in bar soaps.  Hand and body wash is also a possibility for the naughty scents since they won’t make an already made soap seize.

I would love to hear from you on what scents you know of that would be ideal for this fall/winter season of 17/18.  Comment below or email me at neecysnecessities@live.com.

Who we are….

….can be found not in face to face introductions but in looking around our space.  Our home space.

What little things do we like to surround ourselves with daily?  Little things that others might not think twice about or even ignore when they seem them but when we see them a smile begins.  A seashell that’s chipped, worn down, or oddly shaped, but we love it because of what it represents in our memories.  A honeymoon trip, a birthday party that will live in infamy.  Something only we know but it matters.

It doesn’t have to all be indoor things either.  Maybe there’s a tree in the backyard, planted years ago to celebrate the birth of your first child or in memory of your favorite pet.  Now it’s taller than that child, or you or even the house.  Now it shades you in a comforting way that brings the thought of that pet sheltering you, watching over you now.

Here at my business, there is a rose bush outside just beyond the flower beds.  It’s nearly five feet tall now, though this is after I’ve cut it back a bit to fill out nicely. It was just a tiny little shoot above the dirt in a 4 inch pot in 2012 when my son gave it to me at the rehearsal dinner for his upcoming wedding.  Now it’s blooming with wild abandon in the yard with brilliant red roses almost the entire year ’round!  I see that bush and remember my son as a rose trying to look for that opportunity to take hold and thrive in a place he can call his own.  Settle in, raise a family like the blooms that multiply over the years.  With this I smile.

Moonflowers crawl across our front porch roof line and shine like beacons in the night every summer, drawing moths with a siren song only they know the words to.  It’s beautiful to see those tightly wrapped blooms unfurl themselves every evening to dance on soft summer night breezes.  Saucer sized blossoms pop up until as late as November if the season is mild and we’ve had a few of those since I came here in 2009.  2015-08-10 19.47.47My husband had these pale beauties growing from a large bucket in the front of the porch to trail up the trellis when I first moved here and they’re still here, every year, shining brightly late into the night to remind us of our rediscovery of one another after 42 years apart.  They are the light we leave on at night for one another, like a lighthouse to guide us home.

Keep the small things around you, remember those things that only you know about because in your home, your own space, that’s the memory that matters most.  No one else really needs to know why this thingamabob is there, but it brings you joy, so it needs to be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beer (or Wine)? In Soap? Why?

Fig Orange MeadFullsteam Rocket Science & Humidity Pale Ale 2

 

Some beer aficionados might be crying in theirs over the shocking abuse to an otherwise stellar brew, but soap makers know a little something or two about beer in a soap.

There was a time when girls used to rinse their hair in beer after the initial shampoo.  Why?  Well the answers varied about as much as the hair color, but the main one that sprang up most often was ‘shine’.  Lots and lots of shine is brought to your hair after using a beer rinse.

For a quick minute, let’s get a bit technical. Not too much though.  I’ll paraphrase and keep it simple.  What is it about beer that makes your hair shinier with it than without it? There are two main ingredients in beer – barley and hops.  Both are natural sources of proteins which hair needs for strength.  There’s also B vitamins in beer that sooth and smooth the cuticle of the hair, The cuticle is that layered outer coating of each individual hair shaft, similar to a fish’s scales.  When the cuticle is dried out or damaged, these cuticles are raised and damaged, leaving the hair feeling rough and dry.  Almost crackly.  The beer smooths those down and aids in building strength to the hair as well as the shine. The minerals and proteins found in beer are the perfect  way to bring back shiny, healthy hair we underappreciated in our youth.  Okay, technical lesson over.

Now you have a visual image to give you a deeper understanding of why I love to add beers, lagers, stouts, ale of all types, to my soaps.  Bar soaps and liquid soaps alike can benefit from the addition of these well-loved beverages as a positive additive to your next shampoo experience.

NeecysNecessities.com offers a wide variety of boozy bars for your bathing & shampooing enjoyment.  We use pale ales, IPA, & ITA in our liquid soap and every possible type of beer/ale imaginable in our bar soaps.  Many people like to use a bar soap for their hair and while it might work for some I cannot suggest it if you have anything other than very dry hair.

Our soaps rate high on the conditioning scale with a soap making calculator. My bar soaps are aimed toward dry, sensitive or easily irritated skin.    The same can be said for our liquid soaps. However,  I do have a bit more flexibility with these in that I can formulate with more glycerin for skin and less for hair.

Golden Silk Body Wash May 2016

Superfatting one one way to pamper the skin but it doesn’t work for a shampoo bar, so shampoo bars are not superfatted to the extent that a body soap is.  We also offer coconut water and aloe juice enhanced bar soaps for those that like the benefits found in these liquid replacements/additives.

One thing that should be noted here is it’s impossible to make a 1-bar-fits-all soap. What works for you might not work at all for your neighbor.  Still with the range of bar soaps and the liquid soap we also offer, we can make most of you happy with your skin & hair again and smell good while doing it.

Making Boozy Bars and beer-based liquid soap formulations has become something of a specialty of mine and with the large, and growing, microbrewery industry in the Durham, NC area, there’s plenty of potential candidates for our soaps. I love using a boozy beverage in a soap for the boost it gives to hair, the luster, that bounce and over-all beneficial mineral & protein jump start it adds with every use.  Of course once you’ve washed your hair again, those benefits will wash away, too, so don’t stop at just one use.  Use it as a regular routine treatment for highly damaged hair and once a week for regular hair.

 

Images:  photography by DJGunter

Fullsteam found here

Honeygirl Meadery found here

Neecy’s Necessities found here