Summer Time Issues

Heat waves do strange things to humans.  It makes some become very grumpy, while others are mellow and find good reasons to enjoy it, say, poolside.  Still others less privileged and unable to enjoy the luxury of aquatic relaxation stay indoors, going to overly-air conditioned movie theaters, shopping malls, or Costco runs to savor a Vanilla Chocolate-Swirl frozen yogurt.  Sometimes the heat makes us drowsy, giving a good excuse to chill out in a comfy chair or sofa, feet up, book open and eventually eyes closed.  Preferably with the fan blowing lazily over you while you doze and dream the heat-stricken day away.

It also does strange things to our homes.  They’re unable to cool down as well despite the AC running full blast.  The AC can actually kick the proverbial bucket, too much as ours did on Friday in the wee hours of the morning or late Thursday night.  Not sure which since we were sleeping.  Perhaps I’m getting to be a pessimist and speaking prematurely about the state of the cooler’s demise.  Perhaps it isn’t dead, maybe just a coma.  It will turn on, just won’t blow air and the air isn’t all that cool either.  *le sigh

We all go our cars, open the doors and it’s suddenly the gates of Hell, a smelting furnace or actively erupting volcano type of heat blast that belches out at us.  We stagger back in shock and fleetingly consider 1) staying home, 2) calling a friend to share the ride or 3) wonder if walking is a viable alternative.  Summer has its pros and cons, fans and haters.  I love the summer, though the heat in the parked cars sometimes makes my devotion waver.

Why does this type of thing happen at the worst possible time? My husband actually asked that this afternoon and gave me pause to ponder the possibilities of the ‘why’.  Timing could not be worse yet disastrous things seem to happen when you can least afford for it to, like now when the temps are soaring into the high 90s and the index screams triple digits.

The best possible response I could offer is the stress on the power supply has stepped into that supply versus demand conundrum.  Just when we need it most the demand exceeds the supply making comfort a thing of limited availability.  Elusive.  Just out of reach.  Others are also suffering and they too have pushed that temp lower than usual in their home to remain inside a comfortable range, thus putting greater strain on the power grid.  Power companies make the effort to keep up, but well, the fact is, the grid is aging, the lines are not sufficient to meet the growing demands of our ever-increasing demand caused by not just our body’s need to remain chill but also for our electronics to run.  And boy do we love our gizmos!  The more the merrier many believe to be their credo.  I’m not ashamed to say I love gizmos, but more? No, not necessarily.  I have enough to serve my needs and not too many (or too many shiny new ones) to make us a target for thieves.

The hardware most homes boast in this current era would blow our minds if we’d traveled from an era long gone by. Can you imagine what we’d think of all the amazing gadgets & machines of today if we stepped from the 18th or 19th century into this one? Autos with push button starters, ones that park themselves, cameras and beepers to let you know there’s something behind your car. Starting your car remotely. Cell phones 1/4″ thin. Turning off or on your lights, setting alarms, lowering or raising the thermostat in your home by mobile app, paying your bills by phone or online. Laptops less than an inch thick when closed. Televisions with flat screens, a narrow shelf footprint, and lifelike images. Talking to someone 8000 miles away and looking at them as you speak via computer?  Our great, great grandparents would be amazed to see the technological achievements we now take for granted.  And many require power.

I can only imagine what the power consumption is collectively right now as the utility companies struggle to meet the demand that exceeds demand at times.  There’s one less gizmo in our home this weekend making that demand while these temperatures rise like a phoenix from the ashes.  Our central air conditioner has quit, or taken a temporary leave for now, but the proper experts have been made aware and while we shop for new units, we’ll just wallow in the cool in front of the portable AC gizmo we use in the back rooms of the house.  All is not lost.  We are not sweating  to death and we are still able to laugh together at the end of the day.  I’ll just read.  No grumps here.

Last Challenge Met

A challenge is a polite way of approaching a dare.  A challenge is a nudge to grow outside your comfort zone, make you step outside your comfy, cozy box and explore new things, be they colours, toppings, styles, etc., without making it a permanent change.  But what if that challenge stirs something new inside you – that need to move beyond where you are in that happy little rut you tend to dance happily within?

Such is the point at which I now find myself.  My husband’s challenges pointed me into a new direction, one of bright colours, happy stylings, different themes & a whole new range of possibility.

He went for the simpler things.  Single note scents to start – Orange, then Pink Grapefruit.

He loved those and was please with the results though I could NOT force myself to make them all one solid colour.  Really when you think about it an orange and a grapefruit are not all one colour, are they?  There’s the rind of course, a deep orange and a bright yellow respectively.  Within that is the pith, which is white.  Snowy white.  Further in is the pulp of each fruit, a paler hue of the outer rind for the orange but a pale strawberry pink in the case of the grapefruit. So of course these first two could not be single colours simply because it wouldn’t match the object they imitated.  However, their fragrances are simple single note scents, pure and delightful!  Nothing else added.  One is orange.  The other is pink grapefruit.

Moving forward he offered several more though initially he’d hesitated to give up the final one until I forced him to spill.  He then listed them.  Something akin to the black cherry, chocolate chip in vanilla ice cream  of the two dudes fame Black Cherry cherries painted something with the gummy candies shaped like adorable little bears Tops a cotton-themed soap

New perspective

and last but not least, those green-gold orbs of wild-growing grapes we find everywhere in our state from mountains to coastal plane. Muscadine Collage

Since learning how to shape cold process soap into hand molded shapes and discovering (to my great delight) that the soap dough recipes lend themselves beautifully to hand piping with pastry bag and tips dedicated to that purpose, I’ve used that method frequently with satisfying & colourful results. The leaves of this batch are a soap dough recipe.

*See the bottom of this post to learn more about soap dough and how to get the wonderful books on the topic from Bee Iyata  of Sorcery Soaps.

Next time you’re given a challenge or a dare, try it (within reason, that is).  You never know what new wonders await you if you go beyond your road often traveled.

Sorcery Soaps Links

Book #1 – understanding the mindset of soap making, the zen of preparing a design from start to finish. A book of how to approach soap, soap dough crafting and your own ideas.

Enchanted Book of Peculiar Ideas and Soap Potions

Book #2

Soap Dough Book of Light and Shadow

This link takes you heavily into the experienced soapmaker’s mind, the techniques you’ll learn and add to your own growing list of how-tos.  This specific link is for the PDF eBook version.  There is also a hard copy version if you prefer.  You can download the PDF and print out exactly what you need when you need it.  This one has 20 recipes for soap dough, all tested and proven by Bee herself.  There are vegan and non-vegan recipes to choose from depending on your personal and customer base preferences.

Book #3

Soap Dough Recipes Only

Don’t need the How-To steps?  Here’s a link to download her third release which is ALL RECIPES  (PDF format link) .  No filler, just recipes.

Don’t have time or a desire to learn how to make it yourself, but want to try it out on a batch of your own soap you’re planning?  She offers dough, pre-made and pre-coloured.  Unscented only (mainly because that would be difficult to match her scents to yours and so many FOs and EOs sold today can alter the colours).

Soap Dough

Soap Dough Palm Base

Follow her YouTube channel

Sorcery Soap YouTube

Follow her blog

Sorcery Soap Blog




















What to Read for……

What are your favorite things to read – fiction, historical fiction, true crime, magazines, cookbook?  Why do you read them?  Illumination, education, relaxation, entertainment, brain boosting?  Your answer might vary from one day to the next depending on how the first half of the day went for you or where you are in the world or in your life.

I like to shake things up now and then by reading something that is completely out of character but it typically doesn’t last more than that one book.  Depending on how well written the book was, it might not even last that long.  If it’s poorly edited, that too is a fitting cause to abandon it and move on to the next.

Right now, I’m in a fit of reading some wonderfully put together magazines by Stampington.  I use that term with a wide brush stroke outwardly as there’s noting typically magazine-like about the publications distributed by Stampington.  They’re sturdy, matte-finished, thick stock pages of inspiration with no advertising.  They’re as far from a copy of Redbook as one could get and still remain on this planet.  They’re more book-like to me and long-lasting in durability and motivational articles.

If you blog, grab a back copy of Artful Blogging.  If you’re into all things crafty, you’d fall in love with Willow & Sage or Somerset Life. 

There are several titles I’d love to grab for the crafting interests I can’t seem to get enough of, but the one that really inspires me isn’t about crafting, soaping or blogging.  It’s about other women.  Those who create beautiful work of any of thousands of types of  works of art and the spaces they’ve built around them to let that creative muse flow through them – Where Women Create.  These entrepreneurial geniuses offer their own unique voices to give you that little nudge through the own-my-own-business door you need to find your feet and start running with it.  Their stories are heart-warming, honest, funny, and don’t give it that it’s all rainbows and butterflies.  There are cloudy days, potholes in the road to success, sometimes complete re-dos from the ground up.  But they are real.  You feel their joys, sorrows, successes and failures.  I love this one for the healthy dose of reality it serves while still being uplifting and motivating to try harder, perhaps from a different angle.

I share these with you to you can find your feet, regain your voice, find your muse, even if you don’t know you’re looking for them. Sometimes we’re so afraid of trying we push that whisper of an idea down so far we no longer hear it at all.  It still exists but the noise of the world is drowning it out.  Quiet the world for a while in something good to read, let that voice whisper louder in your ear and see what happens next.

Junk mail!

Every day it’s the same thing.  Tons of junk mailings arrive in our mailbox every morning all year ’round and it invariably goes into the same place.  The trash can/recycling bin.  This morning it was ALL junk.  Every. Single. Piece. This made me wonder the reasoning behind it.

Why do companies constantly inundate our mailboxes with their junk mailings throughout the year?  It’s all on spec, meaning, they’re hoping to get at least 1 response in every 1000 mailings.  What about the rest of us?  The other 999? Why are we constantly having to go through it all, see who is nagging us this time and ultimately toss it into the bins? Surely it costs them something to do this day after day, month after month, etc?  How much would they save if they just stopped and relied upon actual FTF interactions? How much would they lose?

I’ve never been the least bit interested in getting a time share, extending my auto warranty with a third-party company that’s unknown to everyone and the reps on the phone are rude. I don’t want to sell a dealership my car.  I need that car!  I have jury duty this month. I don’t want coupons to restaurants I’ll never visit.  I know I won’t be, partly because you’ve nagged me so much over the years with your junk mailings.  The other part – I can’t eat most of what your serve.  I don’t want to consolidate bills, get a reverse mortgage, open a bank account with a bank that charges exorbitant fees for every little thing.  I don’t want to sell you my house for cash.  I don’t know you.  You don’t even give your name.  Your mailing is on a postcard which doesn’t sell me to the idea that you are reputable and awash with solid funding.  I don’t want to own an electronic sign in the mall down the street because there are NO STORES left to draw a strong customer base to it.  There’s no reason for shoppers to go to this mall anymore so why would I spend $295 on an electronic sign that no one sees?

I have to wonder where these pests get their paper supplies for all those glossy mailings with windowed (or not) envelopes with the fancy looks-like-they’re-handwritten addressee printed on the front.  How much is spent on this wasted material?  How much wood is being used to create these mass mailings?  How much could be saved if they ceased and desisted?  The statistics are staggering.  The studies have been done. To read more about this gross waste of natural resources, here are some links to find out more.

How Junk Mail Marketing Damages the Environment

Put An End to Junk Mail

The Story of Stuff

While email is far less personal, there’s no wasteful abuse of our natural resources, no glut in our landfills.  We simply delete and move on.  Perhaps more companies should follow this electronic means of reaching us if they insist upon trying.  Yes, ads can be blocked, but ultimately it IS up to us to do something about it.  We can choose to receive or deny something, read and follow up on it or not.  That’s the luxury of living in a technology-driven society.  Yes it has its downsides, but the upside could save the future our great-grandchildren see and live in.

Time for a change

Seasons change, your lifestyle can change, your job can change and the same can be said for your living spaces.  As a teenager I rearranged my room all the time.  I loved changing things up, getting a fresh perspective from a different corner of my room.  I had a wide row of windows across two walls so it was also a room with a view.  I could see the nearby mall from those windows, which was really vibrant and festive around Christmas time when the tree was put up for the holidays.

As adults,we rarely have so much time or energy for rearranging our rooms.  It’s enough that we keep them clean and cleared away on a daily basis.  However, when the summer season rolls around, temperatures rise outside, the air conditioning is needed not only for comfort but also to spare my products the indignities summer temps and humidity can cause.

We have a roll-around 3-way unit that will either air condition in summer, heat in winter and de-humidify when the need arises.  It’s been a treasure let me tell you!  I don’t how we could manage to remain sane without it.  It was pretty miserable day before yesterday with high humidity and even higher temperature.  The night temp didn’t drop far enough to be comfortable at night.  My poor son dropped by to give me some happy news and the poor guy was sweating and really uncomfortable.  It was time.  I had to do what I’d dreaded.  Move everything out of the room, figure out where to hook up the air conditioner unit, clean thoroughly, then replace everything to a useful, handy location.

Job done, the room is cleaner, the air is fresher, I’m not sweating.  At all.  My poor skin is screaming in misery from the cleaners. Note to self: create line of household cleaners that won’t destroy my skin or my house! So I’m watching comfort shows by streaming them in my pjs and chilling out with a Pepsi.

I have a batch that needs its picture taken but today wasn’t a day for that anyway with heavy clouds, dark overcast all day and rain off and on all day.   Lousy light makes for lousy photos so that can keep til tomorrow.  The soap will still be here.  So will I.  A few hours sleep and some extra strength Tylenol will have things humming along nicely.

What’s in the Numbers?

The soap making market is beyond its saturation point.  Etsy is wall -to-wall, floor to ceiling with them.  The internet is fully stocked with so many you’d never be able to view them all if you sat there looking at them for 100 years.  It’s tough out there trying to get noticed if your biz is online exclusively.  Most makers will tell you that’s not how to create a business if you want it to succeed.  You’ll have to beat feet to be seen, found and heard in this biz.

Being seen, heard and found isn’t that easy either.  Many markets, fairs and special events are in our area but to get into them is the toughest thing I’ve seen since trying to apply for college loans.

Farmers markets in my area are full.  Crafter markets have fees so high I can’t afford to join.   One that started up just a couple of years ago was pretty wide open with just one other Bath & Body maker in it whose product was quite different from mine. I thought it might be possible to get into this market because we didn’t create similar things, but to the everyday person and the vendor oversight/approval committee, if it’s soap, it’s soap.  Period. If you make something that a current vendor makes you’re not welcome here.  Go somewhere else. No room here.

It was clear to see the many crafters in this market are savvy, creative, talented beyond description, know all the right people and have plenty of connections to keep their spot confirmed in the marketplace.  I’ve seen them, visited their web sites and their products are truly unique, of high quality, presented with clear, clean lines that customers appreciate.  They are were very fortunate to get in on the ground floor with this market. Getting their face and brand out there in the public eye is not half the battle it IS the battle.  And those early bird vendors have won.

I’ve been on their mailing list for a couple of years, applied every season with hight hopes only to be turned down again and again, placed on a waiting list that never gets called back.  It more than clear this is not going to happen so I’ve moved on though not without being curious, just one last valiant effort to try to apply.  Just to see what happens.  Can’t win if you don’t enter, right?

So I’m back in their website, looking up their application form and my heart plummets.  There’s now a fee.  Not a large one mind you, but still a fee in involved.  Maybe it would be fine for someone who’s business is doing far better but mine is struggling, seriously struggling to stay alive.  Maybe I’m too stubborn for my own good to keep fighting for it to live, to succeed, but I keep pushing forward.  Despite little income, despite being horribly introverted, it continues.  Even a few dollars is hard to part with, but to part with it and never have anything to show for it?  No, I cannot afford it.

My business is my baby and I’ll fight on for it, but it will have to be quietly, here without a huge following and definitely without fees for events.  I’ve done the social media outlets, I use Google analytics, I work diligently on a web site, setting the SEO just right, post frequently with interest and interactive content.  The steps are done but the numbers don’t show it. But what are numbers anyway when really all it takes in just that ONE person to order, be pleased and spread the word to their friends and pass it along.

The customers who do visit are treated with respect, individualized attention, care and concern.  If they’re not happy, I’m not happy.  Their needs are paramount and I listen to them when they talk of what their issues are and what they’d like to see more of in a product.  I care about my customers whether they number in the thousands, hundreds or just a few.  They still have high expectations and I’m going to do all I can to never let them down.

Taking A Dare

Growing up in a neighborhood filled with similarly aged kids nearby, bicycle-riding distance at the most, friends were a constant.  My house.  Their house.  No difference really to us as long as we had our free time for doing whatever kids do during those long days of summer.  The most mischief we’d get up to was playing Truth or Dare.  Always wary of the dares as they loved to try to get me into way more trouble than any game was worth, I always chose the truth.  I was boring.  No one really had anything over on me because I was a wallflower for the most part.

As an adult and now married to one of those school-age friends I’d known since 6th grade, WB likes to challenge me to try something new whether it’s new colors to wear, a new Thai dish he’s tasted while living in Asia for 12 years or getting on an airplane for the first time in my life. I have to admit he’s a challenge unto himself really, but I love a good challenge. He’s managed to get me to try  more new things in the past 8 years than I’ve had in the entire lifetime prior to marrying him in 2011.

Now he’s trying to get me to create something with a certain color, a certain scent, a certain look and the range is growing broader every day.

Today alone he threw three new ones at me. After making two batches of milk soaps with a single essential oil as the scent – one with orange the other with pink grapefruit – he was thrilled to see the results.

Now he’s pushing the envelope of what he envisions as opposed to what he thinks I can pull off.  Those first two were easy-peasies.  Nothing fancy.  Just a milk soap with the EO blended into a clay to make it stick.  No other EOs added.  The colours have to match the scent, too.

Now he’s listed the rest –

A Cherry Garcia sort of soap, with Black Cherry, Chocolate Chips, and vanilla ‘ice cream’.

Muscadine – complete with the colours of a muscadine found in nature.

Gummy Bears inspired soap, complete with fruity fragranced gummies.

Lastly (so far)- Cotton Boll.  A nod to his work in the cotton industry so he wants a soap that looks like a cotton boll.

We’ll see how this shapes up as time allows these to be made.  This is only the beginning…..


To Be Continued………