Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Early Endings

I am damn near done. I have a little bit of stock left - like, about enough to fill a shoebox. And - you'll think I lost my mind when I tell you this - we're moving this coming weekend.

We're just going across town, to a place that is better for us and WAY better for the dog, and if you've read this blog for more than one entry you know he gets three votes and Jesse and I get one each. But the fact remains that we're moving, and I should have my head examined.

What this all boils down to is that I am NOT going to make it until December 31st. I think I might make it until December 15th.

So, two weeks early, at most. I can just barely manage it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Stuff

Well, I decided to drop the four bar pack down to $16.50, just to make it a better deal. I you already bought one, you'll be getting a refund.

While I'm at it, how about a free lip balm with every purchase over $20 - and free shipping for everything over $50. Sound good?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Specials

You'll probably be amazed to hear that I did manage to throw together a sale package for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. From now until Sunday night, I'm listing a four bar sale pack, for $18 plus $4.95 flat rate shipping (that's the US shipping cost - orders to other countries are higher).

I'm low on quite a few scents, so everything is on a first come, first served basis - grab 'em while you can.

May your pies be plentiful - and thanks!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dazed and Confused

First of all, thank god for the time change, because I flat-out NEEDED that extra hour.

Secondly, I probably need another hour, maybe even a whole day. See, here's the thing: My whole goal in life is to take all the curing soap and finished products and get everything stamped and wrapped and labeled and whatever else they need, because some of the orders I'm getting these days are rather large, and life is a LOT better if I can just cruise down the rack of stuff that's ready to ship and sling it all into the box. Plus, I can't keep track of stock if it's in fifteen different stages (and therefore in different spots in the workroom).

So I am trying to catch up. One of the things I'm behind on is lip balms. I have a large order to go to a wholesale client. The lip balms are all made - I poured them and shoved each batch into a ziploc with the name written on the outside. What I have NOT done is apply each finicky label and wrap them in the little shrink wrap tubes.

Here's the thing: the labels have to be carefully applied because they barely fit, and it's easy to overlap the edge of the lid and glue the damn things shut if you don't watch it. Secondly, the tubes are small slippery ovals, and the heat gun blows a wide path, so it's pretty much like trying to shrink wrap an effing minnow while frying the fingerprints right off your hands.

So I put it off. And now I have a big pile of ziploc bags full of cranky little lip balms lying in wait.

I decided to be brave. I jumped in and started working on bag #1, carefully gluing the label down - Honey flavored - and then gave myself third degree burns while shrink wrapping. I was all pleased and proud that I had at least one flavor done, until I noticed that the outside of the ziploc bag I was putting them back into said "Vanilla Mint" instead of "Honey".

But there's a bag over there that ALSO says "Vanilla Mint". And bag #3 that says "Honey". WTF is this bag in front of me? I sealed them all, so I can't pop one open and smell it. And why did I make an extra batch of one of the flavors? And which extra batch did I make? What if it isn't Honey OR Vanilla Mint, but one of the other flavors I was supposed to make? WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?

So, that's my Sunday morning. I am sitting here glaring at a little pile of Heisenberg Uncertainty Balms, and wondering when the skin on my fingers will grow back so I can un-label each one of the little bastards and start over.

How's YOUR day?


Sunday, October 24, 2010

On The Curing Rack

Man, I am pedaling as fast as I can here, and kinda sorta keeping up. Blowing through raw materials at an alarming rate, too. I honestly can't imagine what it's going to be like NOT to have hundreds of pounds of various vegetable oils in the workroom, but the time is coming up soon.

Anyway, here are a few things that will be back on Etsy shortly:






Bitter End







Cedar & Saffron




Pipeline Porter

And one Endangered Species:

Firelight Salt Bar - only two of this one left.

More later - back to the salt mines for me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old Dog, New Tricks

When we got the Bander-Boo, he was terrified of cars. Since he's also afraid of rain, thunder, airplanes, being left alone, firecrackers, and Wes Craven films, this isn't a big surprise.


Well, we got the chance to take a drive just for funsies the other day. And you know, there's hope for Bander the Neurotic Wonder Dog yet. Because look at this:





Is this the face of somebody who's afraid of cars? No, in fact, this is the face of somebody who has figured out that we're in the drive-through waiting for cheeseburgers.

He didn't get one, don't be silly.

He gets McNuggets.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Well, I announced this in my newsletter, so I guess it's time to put something on the blog. Just to make it official in multiple places.

I'm closing up shop at the end of the year.

I realize that this has gone through the grapevine and might not be news, but I also keep getting messages from people who want to know WHY, so I suppose I can explain a bit.

I had originally planned to make soap full time. And for the first half of the year, that's exactly how life went. Then came the oil spill, and the economic blow to the community. Long story short, I got a full time day job.

So Jesse and I are both working full time, and I was back to running the soap business at night. Which is exactly what I did for the nine years before this.

And perhaps you see the problem before I saw it. I pretty much chucked everything and changed my whole life, moved from one coast to the other, all so I could have a life instead of the endless round of work/sleep/work that California had become.

I needed some time to live, to enjoy my wonderful hubby. To pet the dog until I wore the fur right off him. Maybe take a walk, or have a day off. What was the point of this big move if I was going to be locked in either the office or the soap room every single day?

Don't get me wrong, I'll miss the business. But I'm missing my life. And I can always start another business, while this one life is all I'm going to get. So one job, with a little massage on the side (something else I miss doing, and have no time for right now) - that's a schedule that allows me some time to breathe.

And sit.

And possibly read a book.

Or work on a painting.

Or do a little sewing.

I'll spend the next couple of months using up the materials I have on hand, and selling off the ready stock, and then I'm going to sit in the park and watch Bander chase squirrels.

It sounds completely peaceful.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Endangered Species


Two kinds of soap that are just about gone - Lemony Snickets and Tonic Salt Bars.

And two that are coming in soon - restocks of Pink Grapefruit Salt Bars and Alabaster Salt Bars. Be sure and let me know if you have special requests!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

No More Big Bombs

Well, so much for giving anybody notice. But I just broke my effing bath bomb press that makes the great big bombs, so that's the end of that. There are a few fragrances with one each, and that's the end of the giant bombs.

If you want the regular bombs, I still have those, and I can do custom scents in the smaller size.

*sigh* Stupid bomb press.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

I may have panicked a couple of people with an email I sent a few days ago. Just to clarify things a bit:

I am not out of anything just yet. In fact, I have stuff on the curing rack. I will be making everything I can manage for the next few weeks, then I am going to ship out everything except the dog and my clean socks. I will eventually start to run completely out of stuff, so I'll be posting two things here, fairly regularly:

1. On The Rack -upcoming stock, for sale shortly.

2. Endangered Species - things that are going quick and will not be back.

I hope that will help a bit - and let's start with what's coming out in the next couple of weeks!



Waterfall, Turkish Mocha, and Red Currant Salt Bars. More to come!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Walmart Is A Comedy Goldmine

People have been asking me if I was ever going to blog again.

Okay, fine, I'm back.

I spent most of the summer in a pretty bleak state of mind, and nothing kills my creativity faster than depression. But I finally found something that was so effing ridiculous that I couldn't stay in a funk.

I was walking down the aisle at Walmart - yes, I know, they're reprehensible corporate bastards, but there are some things you can't buy elsewhere, not here in South Alabama.

Anyway, I was in Satan's Discount Den, looking for socks or bug spray or some damn thing, and I overheard the following snippet:


God strike me dead for laughing at some poor bastard who's about to be unemployed, but that's funny right there.

So I'm back.

I have more to say about work and mythology and soap and Walmart, but I don't wanna blow it all in one day. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oil Spill Update

The spill is about five miles directly offshore, being blown north toward us right now. It's completely heartbreaking.

And try not to think about what happens if a hurricane or heavy storm comes ashore - black oil rain across the eastern US.

I'm too depressed to post any more.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Time and Tide

Another much-needed day off today.

I've been spending endless hours trying to make bath bombs lately, in humidity of 85% or above. If you're a fellow bomber, you're laughing your ass off right now because from a technical angle making bombs in this weather is like trying to thread a needle while you jump up and down on a trampoline after drinking a couple of six packs and taking a handful of Ambien. I have lots of failed ugly warty bombs on hand right now and my frustration level is through the roof.

So, in a rare but delightful day off together, Jesse and I decided to head for the beach.

Bander wasn't invited, sadly - which is fine, because we've found some lovely folks to do his day care, and he hates water. So we dropped him off early, and headed out for a quick round of shopping.We had to do the shopping because we both needed new thongs and I needed a new bathing suit (NOT a thong). In fact, the bathing suit was a daunting task; I have a couple of problem areas.


I was hoping for something with a bit more coverage than my past suits - a vintage style would have been my most flattering option, like this little Victorian number.


We settled for an extremely basic black number from the clearance rack, and headed out for the Gulf of Mexico. We've been living here for six months now, half a year, and this is our first chance to get in the water. We chose Navarre as our baptismal point, although nearly any beach would have done. The water temp is 82 degrees, not quite bathwater yet - it'll get warmer as the year goes on - and there was a little choppy surf, but nothing like what we're used to.




It was certainly time to wash away some debris and pieces of the past, and time to soak up the local waters. We played and splashed in the water, stopped for a terrific seafood lunch, took a stroll, and picked up the dog. It was a lovely day.

Only one drawback, brought to you by my pale Irish skin:



SUNBURN. Dear god, I look like a cranky boiled lobster. Now shut up and don't touch me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eeeewww, Part Teeeeewwwww

Since I don't want you to end up looking at bugs, here's something awful that you can look at instead. Give yourself bonus points if you own any of the items shown.

Denim Disasters - The Ugliest Jeans Ever

EEEEEWWWW

Okay, it's going to be another post without pictures. That's because I'm kind and considerate and don't want to squick you out.

Because here's the thing: summer in Florida includes mandatory visits of Palmetto Bugs. If you've never seen one of these beasts, the first thing you should do is spend 20 minutes or so thinking about how lucky you are and then congratulate yourself for living somewhere reasonable.

Palmetto Bugs are Florida cockroaches. They're 2-3 inches long, not afraid of light, and they FLY. The effing monsters FLY. They also run toward you if you startle them. And they bite.

Bander is horribly confused by them. At first, he thought they were mice (yes, they're that big). One got in the house last night and he started chasing it until he actually got close, and then he got all big eyed and ran away. When a bug is big enough to scare away a hundred pound dog, it's pretty big.

I used my patented Palmetto Bug killing technique, which is to flap my hands like a wounded chicken and do my Special Roach Dance while I scream for Jesse to come kill it. When he isn't home, I either stun them with a broom and sweep them away - since I don't have to get any closer than the length of the broom handle - or, if I miss with the first whack and make the giant bug angry, I run away. Since they fly and I can't, this involves a lot of panicking and slamming doors. Of course Jesse is reading this while I type and keeps reminding me that they can crawl under the doors and now I'm afraid to ever sleep again unless I can find some sort of combo jammies/beekeeper getup.

Bugs are gross.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Love Shack

I both love and hate our current house.



(No, this is not our actual decrepit shack. It's close, though.)

I love the trees, of course. And I love the fact that we have workroom and workshop space. I love that it's an older house, and has some character and charm that you just don't find in new cookie-cutter houses. It reminds me of my grandmother's farm house from early childhood. When I look out at the yard I keep thinking I should plant tomatoes or keep chickens. (Neither of which I have time for, mind you.)

I hate the neighbors, or at least their hellspawn kids. I hate the fact that since our house is old, the rooms are very very small. Our queen-sized bed is damn near wall-to-wall, and that's in the biggest bedroom. And right now I hate the landlord.
Here are the things that have broken, since we moved in:

1. The heater, twice, during January. It was forty degrees in the house one night.
2. The plumbing. Apparently the pipes for the washer and dryer were installed by chimps, because if you do more than a very small load of laundry, the sink in the garage overflows.
3. The fence. We had to do our own repairs, just for Bander's safety.
4. The plumbing some more. There's a leak in the backyard somewhere. Which I suppose means that I don't have to water, which is fine.
5, And now.... the air conditioning has decided to be fussy.
This is indeed the South. I can't describe our natural surroundings without using words like "lush", "green", "humid", and possibly "dank". "Moss-covered" and "languid" are high on the list, too. It isn't truly hot yet, not full summertime hot, but it's warm. And if the house is empty during the day, when we get home it's in the high 80's inside, and dammit, we need a little AC to bring it down to a balmy and tolerable 79.



What we've learned about the landlord is that they will wait until I raise seven different kinds of hell before they actually fix anything. The plumbing issues are something we've been discussing since mid-March, and we've seen a plumber exactly once. He scratched his head, opined that they needed to replumb half the house, and drove off. That was the end of that.


They did fix the heater, since it was broken when we moved in and it was actually possible to get frostbite in the living room. They promised to send tree trimmers and fence repairmen, but that never happened because there wasn't any health risk. I bet I have to bitch a LOT before they worry about whether I'm a mite warm this evening.

I'm sure I could use the plumbing issues to break the lease. But I just got all the boxes unpacked, not that long ago.

What should I do?


Friday, April 30, 2010

She's a Killer Queen

I am a murderer.

So, one of the things we have here in the new house is a cute little garden window in the kitchen - the sort where you grow herbs in pots and use them for cooking.

I've been making a lot of my own salad dressings lately, and fresh herbs are expensive, so I ran out and got some cute pots and hardy looking little plants, and spent part of last weekend planting and arranging my new friends.

As of today, I can no longer pretend that there is ANY way the cilantro is still alive or could ever stage a comeback. I have things in the outside compost heap that have more life left in them than this poor thing does.

Cilantro is generally pretty hardy, and tough to kill, but I did it in record time. The poor thing looks like I filled the pot with dirt, watered it carefully, and then set it on fire. From across the room with a blowtorch.

I guess I won't be making salsa any time soon.

I was going to take a picture so you could all be sad with me, but the battery in the camera is dead. I am reeling from the irony.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

At Last!

Guess what's finally ready?



Perfume!

The first three scents available are Maui Sunrise, Ambre de Nepal, and Wildwood Rose. I'm off to list them on Etsy right now!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Uninvited Guest

A few days ago I wandered out into the back yard where Bander was relaxing, to find an unexpected visitor. It was a Miniature Pinscher that lives a couple of blocks away.
If you're not familiar with the MinPin, they look like tiny little Dobermans:


They're little dogs, about the size of Chihuahuas. Now, we have a large yard, and the fence is not in the best condition. We've repaired any holes that Bander might get through, but since Bander is about the same size as Tom Hanks this just meant a few planks. If we want to patch all the holes that Little Dog can get through, we'd pretty much have to replace the entire fence. Since we have a really big yard that's a big expense, and we're renters, so forget that idea.

I know where Little Dog lives. I've taken her home a couple of times, but she gets out of her own yard just as easily as she gets into mine. Her owners haven't been home when I went by, but you can see evidence of many, many attempts to patch each and every hole. Clearly they're failing, since all the other neighbors have told us that Little Dog runs all over the neighborhood all the time.

Lately, though, she comes straight to my house. I'm pretty sure that Little Dog is in heat and she seems to have chosen Bander as her life partner. This is a poor choice since I estimate that Bander outweighs her by 85 pounds, and he lacks some of the essential equipment for the job. He was neutered before the rescue group even put him up for adoption, so Little Dog has missed the window of opportunity by oh, four and a half years or so.

This does not keep her from trying. She dances around Bander and wags wildly. He's not so happy to have other dogs in his space. but seems to tolerate small ones better than big ones. He hasn't tried to eat her yet but I bet he's considering it.



She's showing signs that she'd like to live here, although she's clearly well fed and cared for, and we are NOT in the market to own a highly active but not terribly bright Little Dog, particularly one that is an escape artist.

Right now Bander and I are hiding inside with the doors closed pretending that we're not home, while Little Dog prances around impatiently on our back porch. I hope she finds a different boyfriend soon, because I'd like to go outside at some point this summer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Into each life....

Today I'm going to be loading tote boxes with product and piling them into the car, along with tents and tables. I'm getting ready to go do a weekend craft fair in Milton, Florida. Setup is tonight, and the show is Saturday and Sunday.

I've found a sitter for Bander, who will take care of him until I'm done, since Saturday is a long day - twelve hours. I take him with me to a lot of fairs and markets, but that's a long time for him to just sit there, wondering what the hell Mama is waiting for.

And guess what the weather prediction says?



That's right, ladies and gents, I'm going to go stand outside in the rain for twelve hours straight and see whether my tent attracts lightning.

But you gotta go try. Dammit.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Homework, Lesson Four: Sweating the Small Stuff

If you've been dealing with life-changing stress for the past year, and your focus is on whether someone else has a driver's license, you are focusing on the wrong fucking thing. It's quite astonishing to me how petty and self-flagellating some people can be, to the extent that they hobble themselves in every single endeavor.


I watched somebody do this recently in their personal life - obsess over a minor detail, and miss a one-time-only opportunity. Of course, it's true in business as well.

I know we've all heard it said before - focus on the big picture. Choose your battles wisely.

There will be day-to-day setbacks. There will be slow afternoons. There will be soap batches that came out.... well, stinky. There will be moments of horrible self doubt, wondering where the rent payment will be coming from.

You will make yourself crazy if you keep your focus on the here and now. Watch the horizon, the long-term trends, the overall course. If you're a freeway driver, and you're any good at it, you know that you watch several car lengths ahead. If you just obsess over the bumper immediately ahead of you, and mutter angrily to yourself over the number of Qs they got in their license plate - unfairly, to be sure - you are NEVER going to move past this plate. You've just earned yourself a permanent spot behind that car.

So. Look up. Look out. Raise your viewpoint, expand your horizons. That way you can see how the road ahead moves and flows, you can enjoy the trip and allow yourself to plan your path.
Or keep your focus on the unfair plate right ahead of you and stay small and petty.



Your choice. Just remember who made the decision on how you'd be guided.



PS - yeah, that IS a picture of Tom Petty. Some concepts are surprisingly hard to illustrate.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Busy Bee

Sorry I'm late, but I picked up an office temp job for a few days, and since the dog hasn't learned to make soap yet, the goldbricker, I was filing during the day and soaping at night and thus had no time left for blogging.

So, a couple of quick updates - one, we found a lovely little open field only a couple of blocks from our house that we walk the dog to, early in the morning. This is a good view of the bayou across the street from us (mostly it's blocked by houses).




The only odd thing was the moment when we figured out that it wasn't always an empty lot - it quite clearly used to have a house there, and I'll bet you five bucks that it was flattened by Hurricane Ivan. There's a lot immediately next to our house that has nothing left but a foundation and a sidewalk, and I'm sure that it was an Ivan casualty, too. We didn't realize how hard our neighborhood got hit. I can't tell if that makes me feel terrified, or comfortable because seriously, what are the odds that we'd get another direct hit like that?

Besides, I had to run from fires, and we missed the recent earthquake, so I'm prepared to flee storms if I have to. We got a piece of very useful advice from a native: "If it's over a Cat 3, take your kids and your wallet and run." Okey dokey!

And to end on a positive note, I know I showed you the tree in my front yard a few months ago. Here's the back yard tree, even bigger and a little more beautiful.


Just don't talk to me about rakes right now.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chatterbox

Well, the weekend was EXHAUSTING. Friday and Saturday I did the first live craft show I've done in years. And wow, are they tiring!

I did get to break out my new banner with the newly updated logo - here's a quick shot of the booth. I quite like it. Modern and funky, not as serious as the old one. I think it suits me more this way.


Now, I don't know what anybody else's sales technique is, but mine is talking. Talk talk talk talk talk. I talk to customers, other vendors, spectators, passersby, everybody. I don't even talk about soap, necessarily - this weekend I talked about finances, weather, bagpipes, Hawaiian music, dogs, belly dancing.... it was endless. I babble a whole lot. It's sort of stand up comedy crossed with street busking and a side of soap selling.

Bander went with me, since he's been having lots of anxiety and overreactions to noise - Jesse was busy and I couldn't leave the Bander-Boo by himself, so he hung out in the tent all weekend. As per usual, he was the most popular person at the festival. And he spent a good while barking at the bagpipe players, but by the end of it all he was taking everything in stride.

And we did pretty well sales wise, too - so overall a great success for both me and the dog. It's just that I'm out of small talk for the moment. I'll be back when I think of something important to say.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homework, Lesson Three: Schedules Are Not Just For Trains

I think a lot of us who are working for ourselves, from home, are drawn to it partly because we all imagine that we'll be free as birds, able to do what we want to, when we want to do it.

Pardon me while I kill myself laughing.

Because here's what really happens; work is often erratic, especially in a growing business and a difficult economy. When the opportunities to work crop up, you'll grab them. For an online retail business, what this means is some days with no orders, where you bite your nails and wonder if you're doing everything wrong, and some days with so many orders that you work up a sweat trying to get the boxes packed.

If you're lucky, the cash flow averages out at a point where you can make the rent payment. It's likely to be some months a bit over and some a bit short, just to make life really really exciting.

Your workday will be at the mercy of the weather, the number and duration of walks the dog thinks he needs, the amount of laundry that's gotten backlogged, the incoming orders, the upcoming shows, and the availability of supplies. You will have moments of overwhelming success followed by crushing bouts of self-doubt and visions of living on the street.

There is only one way to maintain sanity in the middle of all this.

Make a schedule. I know, you quit so you didn't have to adhere to a schedule, but guess what? You now have the toughest boss on the planet, and it's YOU. You'll work harder for yourself than you ever have for another person. Want to cope with this terrible boss?


I know. It's awful. Make a schedule.

You need to have times that you work, and times that you don't. Your family and friends need to know what your working hours are, so they don't assume that "working from home" means "available for annoying errands and social engagements". You need to pay attention, too, so that you don't decide that your morning would be best spent eating leftover pizza and watching "Revenge of the Nerds".

And your time off needs to be time spent NOT working. Just sneaking in a few minutes of printing labels turns into hours of work if you're not careful. And off time is an important thing - it keeps the creative juices flowing, prevents burnout, and makes you a lot more fun to be around.

Time off does not mean eating leftover pizza and watching "Revenge of the Nerds", by the way. It means getting your ass OUT OF THE HOUSE. Go somewhere, do something! If you work at home, getting a change of scenery is absolutely vital. Even a walk around the block is a start.


Now, why are you sitting here reading this? You should either be working or playing. Go!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Build Your Own Log Splitter

Brace yourselves - I'm going to actually talk about soapmaking for a change. I happened to mention on a forum I belong to that I'd built my own log splitter, and several people asked me for pictures and a description. If you're not a soapmaker, this should bore the poo out of you. If you ARE a soapmaker, this is a great piece of equipment, and it was super dooper cheap.

Let me start by saying that I have very little in the way of power tools - if you have a full wood shop you can probably make a prettier version.


This thing is called a log splitter - it takes a slab of soap and turns it into logs that then get sliced into bars. Let me just apologize up front for the pics - the lighting in my workroom is not great for photos. Anyway, here's the beast:


This is built from a sheet of melamine, coated on both sides. I used it for a few reasons - it's easy to clean with a wet cloth, it's smooth and it slides on itself, and it was on sale because it's a partial sheet. Cost nearly nothing. The edges of the sheet are a little chipped, but I don't care. The top slider is roughly 30 inches long, to handle my standard soap slabs, which are 24 inches. The slit in the sliding sheet is roughly 26 inches - and going through the slit, from the overhead metal bar to the support underneath, is a guitar string (unwound E). The string is held at the top with a tuning key - I bought both the string and the key at Guitar Center, about $13 including a replacement set.


To make sure that the top slider stays absolutely straight when it slides back and forth, I made a channel in the support and attached a thin square molding strip.


This is the slab of soap I'm going to split into logs. It's a twenty pound slab of Raspberry Fizz, and it smells wonderful. It's going to be split into three logs, each 24 inches long and 3.5 inches wide.


I've brushed the top of the slab with some silver mica before cutting. Now the slab is in position on the top slider, just touching the guitar string.


The first log has been split from the slab and removed. I've repositioned the slab on the edge of the slider, again touching the guitar string. I'll just push the slider along, with slow even pressure, and let the wire make the cut for me.

video

Ignore the sound. I didn't realize our camera would record video, so I wasn't talking. Duh.


This is the log after splitting, turned onto it's side.


After a few hours for the logs to dry, I'm now cutting them into bars. This batch was made with coconut milk, which tends to add a blue tone to fresh soap - these will cure to be a violet shade with white swirls. It's on the curing rack, letting the dehumidifier do it's thing.

I estimate that this cost me about $23 to build, using nothing more complicated than a circular saw and a drill.

Questions? Feel free to ask!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fruit is Dangerous


From a new blog I tripped over, My Food Looks Funny. From people who have a lot more free time than I do.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Sky is Falling

Have I mentioned that the dog is afraid of thunder?

Well, welcome to springtime in the South.


Tuesday night we had some intense rain and thunder in small cells, which scared the bejeebers out of Bander-Boo. He generally reacts by huffing and pacing and panting and trying to get our attention. Jessie can sleep through the antics, but I'm a light sleeper and I can't. On the basis that at least one of the three family members should get a decent night's sleep, I always get up, take the dog into the living room, and close the bedroom door. The dog then proceeds to get on my very last nerve while keeping me awake until the weather clears.

Tuesday, that was bad, but not awful - I ended up going to bed at 10:30, getting up at 2:00, going back to bed at 4:30 and getting up again for the day at 6:00. Five hours, rocky but manageable.

Except that it rained and thundered again last night. Started at around 10 pm and didn't stop until 4 in the morning. So I fell asleep at 4 am and got up for the day at 6:30, a very short 2 1/2 hours later.

Guess what's predicted for tonight?



I can't be mad at the dog for being afraid. He's not doing it on purpose. And the most effective way, we've learned, to handle his fear is to ignore it. Not to comfort him or yell or do anything at all.

And I can't be mad at the dog today, either, because dogs don't go "ooo, I bet she's just cranky over last night, or that time I said mean things about her sister." Dogs are the ultimate Zen masters - they live in the NOW. This is why punishment in general doesn't work well as a training tool, because dogs just don't connect past actions to current reactions.

All Bander knows today, right this minute, is that he's tired, too. He didn't sleep any more than Mama did. He tried to find a quiet place in the yard but didn't get much farther than the back steps.

I am doing my very best to be patient. But god help people who cross my path. I will therefore stay home today, and prep for the coming storm. By napping, if I'm lucky.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homework, Lesson Two: Oprah Is Not Research

I mentioned in my last post that I personally fall into the "work constantly" category. That's both a blessing and a curse. A lot of people find themselves in the "I'll get to it pretty soon" group.

I understand this, I really do. One of the big benefits of working from home is that you get to make your own schedule, and be your own boss. If you're not a morning person, and I most certainly am not one, you don't have to get started at 7 am. Heck, you don't have to start until 9 am. It's when you drift off to noonish that the trouble starts.

If you don't have a clear view of what the day entails and what the plan is, it's pretty easy to just check the television (or internet) before you start working. Since each television now has about a zillion channels, chances are high that you'll find something you'd rather be doing than recording your expense receipts for the fiscal quarter.


That leads to a day of watching old movies and eating bon bons with your feet up. We all need those days, once in a while. Pretty easy to take a second day, 'cause you're tired and you worked hard last week. Soon it's Thursday. Then the twentieth and you suddenly realize that you need to mail the rent check and you haven't done a damn thing all month. You can justify it all you want, but if you have to borrow cash to pay the landlord anything you say will sound like an excuse.

What you have to do, to be a success at this working from home gig, is to harness the power of inertia. It's pretty simple: bodies in motion tend to remain in motion. Bodies at rest tend to lay on the couch and eat Cheetos.


Try to plan ahead, to give yourself something to accomplish each working day. A scheduled task. You can watch TV after you finish, but you might find that once you've accomplished one thing, you're ready for a second thing. Just keep moving, and you're golden.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Homework, Lesson One; Jammies Are Not Sportswear

Well, not so much homework as working from home.

A lot more people are finding ways to work from home these days. I've done it more than once, in different jobs, so I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned.

There are a few different categories that your bad habits can fall into. The first one, my own personal trait, is the "working too much" slot. That's when you find yourself saying "oh, just one more package" and everyone else has gone to bed already because it's midnight.

First of all, I don't care how cute your jammies are. You'll need to take them off some time, and put on real clothes.


Sure, the mailbox is pretty close, but the neighbors will notice you running down the driveway in your onesie. And it does NOT look like a jogging suit, no matter what you've told yourself in the house. Yeah, it sucks up twenty valuable minutes. Get your butt into the shower and then put on some damn clothes. And comb your hair.


And like everything else I know, I learned this the hard way. It was years ago, and the details are way too mortifying, but when you meet the handsomest man EVER you don't want to be thinking "Did I shower this week? I don't think so. " and hoping to god that the wind doesn't shift.

I have soaping clothes now, and since I work with lots of oils and colorants they look like hell, but they're real daytime clothes. I look like hell, but they're not jammies.

We'll talk about schedules in another post. First, get dressed and have some coffee. And maybe some toast.

Have two cups. You're gonna be busy.
 

blogger templates | Make Money Online