Wednesday, December 30, 2009

IS IT THAT TIME AGAIN ALREADY?


A friend asked me whether or not I make New Years Resolutions. My reply? Um... not exactly. I believe change can come at any time. New Years is just that... a new year. Time and nothing more. I understand some people need a starting point to change but my changing points come throughout my life. I always joke close to New Years that I have to make changes but I seriously never do. I change when the feeling hits me. If it is April at 2 am and I feel like changing something, then I change it.

Last year I did make a list on my blog of New Years Resolutions. I looked over that list to see what I had accomplished.

2009's Resolution List:
1. I promise not to wake up before 11 am. BROKE
2. I promise not to work out more than 1x a week. RELUCTANTLY BREAKING
3. I promise not to avoid chocolate. BROKE
4. I promise not to skip a snickers cooler each day from caribou. BROKE
5. I promise only to walk the dog if she barks uncontrollably and whines a little. KEPT THIS ONE
6. I promise to be extra late dropping my kids at school so I can sleep later. BROKE (The teacher threatened my life, what can I do)
7. I promise to spend extra money on soapmaking supplies and cardmaking supplies. BROKE (I need to spend more)
8. I promise not to give my husband too much alone time. KEPT
9. I promise to eat out and not cook at least 4x's a week. BROKE (the domestic goddess title is calling my name)
10. I promise to give my kids unhealthy food daily. BROKE (Now it is only a few times a week)
11. I promise to do laundry only once a month. BROKE
12. I promise to clean house every six months. BROKE
13. I promise not to read or write too much. KEPT
14. I promise not to help my kids with homework. TRYING TO KEEP THIS ONE BUT THEY WON'T LET ME
15. I promise not to have long talks with my children when they have inquisitive questions about life. TRYING TO KEEP BUT IT IS REALLY DIFFICULT SINCE I'M WORDY BY NATURE.

See what I mean. Who needs New Years Resolutions anyway????

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CHRISTMAS HAS COME AND GONE

All that preparation for a moment that comes and goes so quickly. Now it is time to move on to bigger and better things... like... pictures :)

These turned out so yummy I just had to share. The girls and I made two batches of delicious chocolate chip cookies, our first time ever. Yes, I'm guilty. I have always purchased the mix at the store. You know the one... slice, put on cookie sheet, bake. Now that I have my new kitchen aid I have no excuses for not making cookies from scratch.

Before I get started with cookie baking I'll show off my new kitchen aid from the Martha Stewart blue collection. Woohoo!



Ok, enough of that.



Cookie Recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The finished product. Yes, they are dark but who cares, they are still edible. I learned that my electric oven bakes cookies faster than a gas oven. Next time I make cookies I won't leave them in 9-11 minutes, it will have to be 7-8 minutes instead.


Now for our Christmas. We do all of our celebrating on Christmas Eve, hence why I am doing a blog post on Christmas day.

Our day consisted of shoveling this 3 different times



and we aren't finished yet. It is one of the reasons I love Minnesota so much. Yes, the darkness in winter is awful and the bitter cold can be draining but the snow really makes it all worth while.

The midwest is getting dumped heavily and it is wonderful. Thankfully, we don't have to go anywhere.

While burried inside yesterday I decided to get one of my card swaps finished. Here is she is in all her glory. My bella!

If you are a stamper you probably know who bella is and I have a bella addiction.



As for our Christmas celebration. Do my kids look happy to have their DSI's? If they don't look happy now they will be VERY happy to have these when we have to take a long flight to visit my in-laws.



Hubby was his usual goofy, cheerful self when putting together one of Aiyana's gifts.



Last but not least is my little angel. She has wanted to be a princess since the first time she saw Cinderella. It was a long wait but the princess has finally arrived.



Saturday, December 12, 2009

THE GIFT BASKETS ARE A HIT!!

This year for my sister and her staff I decided to have a Christmas party. The girls and I have come through so much together in the past 9 months I wanted to do something nice for them. Since I'm always preaching to my staff about the dangers of chemicals in our environment (LOL) I thought it would be fun to make them gift baskets comprised of only handmade goodies. At the same time I wanted to support some of my fellow indie business pals.

I asked the following people to make some goodies for the baskets.

Teresa and her sons from Homestead Notes and Two Tadpoles on Artfire made 8 soap dishes.

Carrie from Under the Willow Gifts, Mud Puddle Girl and Under the Willow Gift Shoppe made 8 bars of soap.

Amber from Ambers Ambry and Ambers Ambry Etsy Shop made 8 containers of bath salts and included with each container was a handmade spoon for scooping.

Joanna from Product Body, The Soap Bar and the Product Body Blog made 8 Creams and 8 Bath Milks.

Amy from the Great Cakes Soap Works Blog and Great Cakes Soapworks made 8 packages of bath truffles and also sent along 8 little round balls of soap.

I must apologize for my lack of pictures. I had intended to take pictures of everything that was sent but, as usual, I procrastinated and on Sunday (2 days before the party) me and 3 daughters came down with the stomach flu which left us bed bound until early Tuesday morning. Our staff party was Tuesday evening so I quickly put the baskets together forgetting to take photos of individual gifts :(

Middy reminded me to take a picture of the completed basket.



As usual, I'm a dope when comes to photography and I forgot to switch the camera into the correct mode when I took the following pictures at the staff party. I hope they aren't too awful.

Angie smelling her sexy laundry day cream from Joanna.



My sisters support team gathered around for a holiday photo.



Joy, Daba and Mia giving big smiles to show they love the gift baskets.



Thank you everyone for creating such great prezzies. Everything was loved by everyone. You may even be hearing from a few people :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

MY BACK IS KILLING ME!!

Seriously! I want to try and come up with some ingenius title for this blog post but my back hurts so bad that I can't think of anything else.

Why post? Um...because I hate letting so many days go between blog posts so I'm determined to at least share something.

Well, I managed to make a few things. Woohoo! < that is me giving myself a mini cheer. Someones gotta do it... right?!

Anyway... I made some bath bombs and several batches of soap. Being the perfectionist that I tend to be I'm only happy with one of the batches. All my cast-offs get sent away. I've found a couple newbies that are more than willing to take my cast-offs so it is a win-win situation. Ahem... Joy... Ahem... Angie.

Here is the Oatmeal & honey soap. I cannot wait for my beekeeping course. I felt cheated that I had to use someone elses honey. Some day it will be mine and I'll be OH SO PROUD! I love how honey naturally turns soap into a beautiful tan color.



My itty bitty bath bombs AND YES, they are itty bitty. I'm using the MINI BALLER that I purchased from FROM NATURE WITH LOVE and it works really well.



Now for family.

We headed out to Hansons Tree Farm, our annual tradition, and we chopped down our beautiful balsum fir tree. It smells wonderful. Of course hubby always does the cutting and we watch and complain about how dang cold it is. LOL! Then we head back to the fire and have some hot cocoa :)












When we got home the girls had fun decorating the tree.







and now I can't believe that Christmas Eve is just 18 days away. YIKES! Time to get off the computer and get working on wrapping.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MY BUSINESS IS GETTING A MAKE OVER

I went from crazy, over the top, ready to sell anything I could make business woman in the early 2000's to no business woman at all. After my mom died in 2007 my life took major turns. Some I was prepared for and some... well... not so prepared for. I tried holding onto the business end of myself but completely lost it. I didn't really want to make anything, just pretended like I did. I thought if I pretended than it really meant I wanted to but... we all know how that can go.

The last 2.5 years have been full of learning experiences. A lot has happened, most of which would bore you all so I won't share it. I've even had people come IN and then OUT of my life recently that strangely impacted my view of myself and my view of the world. I actually can say with 100% certainty that I'm happy and feel energized all over again. With that said, I'm back to business and for starters, I have a new improved permanent logo.

I've gone through a few logo changes and although the others were adorable I learned that the first wasn't copyrighted to me - which is no good, the 2nd was cute but cute isn't going to represent my business well. I ask the designer of my new logo to give me something whimsical but professional. I wanted a fairy but it had to look like a logo and not just a piece of art. She did great. More than great, it is perfect. Here it is:



I also have a new website but haven't quite uploaded anything yet. That will be the next step. Still trying to figure out the "cart" part of the site. Slowly but surely. I'm in school now and trying to get inventory stocked, so it will take a while.

The business card is all finished:




I've received multiple shipments of supplies and it is time to get really busy creating and marketing myself again. The good thing is, those who loved my products before still love them. Those who don't know them definitely will very soon :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UNDER THE WILLOW SENT ONE OF HER GIFTS

So no, I couldn't take a single picture of Carrie's laundry soap that would do it justice. So I'll just have to convey my excitement and the beauty of her product through words.
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Carrie from Under the Willow Gifts sent me some samples of her natural laundry detergent recently and the only reason I dragged my feet on blogging about it is because I can't take good pictures. Seriously! I always manage to buy the wrong camera... either that or I just have absolutely no talent for taking pictures.

I'll be honest, when I received Carrie's natural laundry soap it looked and smelled fantastic but I doubted its ability to maintain that great scent throughout the washing cycle. I've used natural laundry soaps for years and I've never had any luck getting the scent to stick when I put my clothing in the dryer. When my clothes are hung on the line, they smell wonderful but the dryer sucks every little bit of fragrance right out of the clothes before they finish drying.

When Carrie's package arrived I was eager to use it right away. Sadly, all I had to wash were towels and I always dry towels in the dryer since I haven't found the cure for line drying towels and having them NOT dry crunchy and scratchy (any tips???)

I felt like I was wasting this great product on my towels cause I really wanted the scent to linger after I washed but... I REALLY WANTED to try the laundry soap.

Ah well, life is about sacrifices right?!?

I chose the cambridge rum scent. They all smelled beautiful but cambridge rum is my favorite. My 9 year old was equally as excited as I was, she loves when packages arrive, so she took the first picture of the laundry soap in hand.

Shock #1, when I pulled the towels from the washer they had a beautiful light scent of cambridge rum. I held on to one of the towels for a minute or two because I knew once I tossed them into the dryer that the scent would be gone :( I even hemmed and hawed about possibly just putting them on the line so they'd still smell pretty when they dried but I couldn't stand the idea of drying myself with a hard towel later.

Shock #2, I'd gone out back for something and I could smell the light fragrance of cambridge rum coming from the dryer vent. Wow! I was impressed. It was about 20 minutes into drying time and I could still smell it.

Shock #3, after 40 minutes of drying on low heat I pulled my towels from the dryer. To my surprise they smelled beautiful. The cambridge rum scent hung in there for the long haul. I love that the scent isn't perfumy or overbearing, it was just perfect. I think I talked about it all day long to whomever would listen about how great this natural laundry soap is.

Shock #4, The ultimate shock was how soft the towels felt. Now, I said that my towels are softer when dried in the dryer as oppose to the line but they aren't VERY soft. I don't use fabric softeners so I don't get that fluffy soft that one would get with something like downy. I've tried natural fabric softeners but they don't seem to do much except add a fragrance. My towels felt soft, much softer than they ever were before, which makes for a very happy household because we all love soft things over here.

Of course, I used up all 3 packages of laundry soap samples that day. I decided I needed to wash bed sheets and a few other things. Never have I been so eager to wash. Now at least I know where to buy a laundry soap I can be happy with.

Thank you Carrie for sending me the samples and the beautiful wash cloth. I have the bar of soap sitting on my kitchen sink, we all love washing our hands with it. It has a wonderful fragrance and feels really nice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BEFORE YOU REACH FOR THE HAND SANITIZIER…


Or antibacterial soap, think twice. As I mentioned in a previous post, antibacterial soaps contain an ingredient called Triclosan. Did you know that Triclosan is a pesticide? CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Triclosan is known to weaken the immune system, not something you want to do during flu season. Your goal should be to strengthen your immune system since it is that very system which will keep the flu at bay or make you strong enough to make it through if you do manage to catch the virus.

Triclosan can cause birth defects and uncontrolled cell growth. Not only will you find this in your soaps and sanitizers but it is also in some brands of toothepaste, cosmetics, deoderants, etc… ALWAYS CHECK THE LABEL!

But what if Tricolan isn’t the active ingredient, such as in hand sanitizing gel? Most hand sanitizers contain 60-90% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. If they don’t contain the high percentage they aren’t affective at killing bacteria. The main danger associated with hand sanitizers is ingestion by children. Not just a small child drinking it but an older child using the gel before lunch, touching their food and than ingesting it. It has also been reported that children who have licked their hands after using a hand sanitizer have become gravely ill.

READ SANJE GUPTA OF CNN's OPINION ON THIS

Alcohol also dries the skin. I don’t know about the rest of you but the last thing I want to do is have my kids use a product that dries their hands out when we already live in a climate that is very drying in the winter months.

READ THE INFO AT OSHA ON THE DANGERS OF ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL

What alternative do you have when it comes to protecting your kids from the flu? There are three great ways of staying healthy through the flu season (in no particular order):

#1 - Frequent hand washing. This is the best way to avoid viruses. Wash your hands often using soap and water.

#2 - Strengthen your immune system: Reduce your sugar intake. Get good rest. Avoid stress. Exercise. Eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, especially garlic and onions. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin C than take a supplement.

#2 - Create your own antibacterial hand sanitizer. Anne Marie from Brambleberry has some antibacterial recipes on her blog using antimicrobials like cinnamon or antivirals like tea tree. NOTE: Cinnamon bark oil is an irritant and sensitizer, if used topically it must be used at no more than than 0.1% CLICK HERE FOR RECIPES

Other antivirals include: lavender, melissa, lime, lemon
Other antimicrobials: lemon, rosemary, myrrh
Other antibacterial: neroli, melissa, lime, lemon

My own children use a mixture of EO’s in a spray bottle and use it on their hands and face throughout the day at school. A colorful bottle with a great blend of EO’s makes for a child eager to use whatever is created.

NOTE: Make sure the EO's you use and the dilution rate is safe if your creation is for children, elderly, pregnant women, or those with particular health issues.