Links of the Week

Well it has been a few weeks since I did my “Links of the Week” post. This is actually one of my favorite posts of my new format. I am hoping that since my crazy schedule has settled down a bit, that I will be able to post for the remainder of the year (except maybe my vacation, I may not have Internet). So here we go…

This one is a painting by a German woman named Daniela Uhlig. The resemblance to my apprentice, K is uncanny. Just give the painting glasses and you’ve got K. So I just had to post this one because of how it sort of shocked me when I came across it.

The next one is Yarn Paradise. I haven’t ordered from them yet (mostly because I have over 30 projects in my stash to do before I order more yarn), but their prices seem very reasonable and they have some very fun yarns. You do have to ship from the UK, but when you are paying $10 for 8 balls of yarn, it could be worth it.

For anyone who loves toe socks I have found the ultimate- toe shoes! Vibram has a “five fingers” model that takes it to a whole new level.. I am asking for a pair of these for Christmas!

And finally, a post for all those Chemistry junkies out there- free journals. Chemistry junkies? I am one of them and many soap makers are. Its odd, I know, but this link excited me and I just had to share.

So have fun buying yarn, and reading up on the chemistry you’ve missed since high school and see you back next week with 4 more links~


Wednesday Rant

Rant… rant…rant, rant, rant, rant…

Why all the ranting? Because I am tired…because what I want to rant about I really shouldn’t rant about online…because I can’t believe the gall and stupidity of so much of the human race…because I can’t get myself motivated, that I am blue (not depressed-that is a clinical thing, just blue, unhappy) and even though I look around myself and can’t think of any one thing I should be unhappy about, a certain feeling of blue washes over me every once in a while.

I think of the Nike slogan- just do it. I should just make a list of things to do and do them. So I make the list, and I look at it, and I don’t want to do any of it. I just know that it has to be done and by not doing it now, life will suck more later. So I do some of it, just enough to feel like I have done something, but not really enough to have a feeling of accomplishment. Just enough not to feel like I have sat around eating bon-bons, but not enough to really think that I have made a change in my life. I wonder where this laziness has come from and how people around me constantly tell me that I am not lazy, that I am in fact the opposite, pushing myself too hard and expecting too much. But I know the truth- I know that I sit and watch an episode of Homicide when I should be labeling sachets, I know that I take a nap when I should be working on my newsletter, and I know that there is a pile of e-mails that should have been answered days ago, but haven’t.

What I hate is the late night electricity, the felling in my body that I should get up and do something, anything- take a walk, ride my bike, clean the house, but my brain tells me that it’s late and that I should try to relax, so my internal conflict goes on until I just go to bed to get away from it. I talk to myself all day like this- I’ll do that after noon, I’ll do this after lunch, I’ll do something else after just one quick game on the computer…

Ugh.. I’m going to take a nap to get away from myself, I am such a nag.

Herb of the Week: Fennel

Herb of the Week

The information provided below is for reference only. It is not to be used as a medical manual or as any guide to treatment. These are merely meant to be a way to learn about herbs and their uses in history and today. Seek medical advice before using any herbs as they are often dangerous when used without guidance.

When I begin researching an herb I typically start in two places: Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (by copy is from 1987) and the PDR for Herbal Medicines (Third Edition). So since I haven't actually referenced a written work since college, I'll point out what information I have gotten from which source the best I can)

This weeks herb is:
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare (wild fennel) Umbelliferae F. vulgare dulce (sweet fennel)

Common names:
Florence Fennel, finoccio, Large Fennel, Sweet Fennel, Wild Fennel, Fenkel, Bitter Fennel

(from Rodale, pages 188-190)

Along with its medicinal usages, fennel was also used to prevent witchcraft, being hung over doors for that purpose. It was the emperor Charlemagne who introduced the plant into central Europe, it was eaten along with fish and meat to aid digestion.

Uses: Carminative, weak diuretic, mild stimulant. Fennel tea is said to soothe the stomach. All parts of the plant are considered to be safe to eat. The essential oil of the seed can be irritating to those with allergies or skin sensitivities.

It was also been believed to help break up kidney stones, quiet hiccups, prevent nausea and gout, clear the liver and lungs, and serve as an antidote to poisonous mushrooms.

Fennel is aromatic in both odor and taste and is commercially used in condiments, perfumes, and soaps. It is cleansing and medicating, an infusion of the ground seeds can be used to make a steam facial. The flowers and leaves can be used to create yellow and brown dyes for wool.

PDF for Herbal Medicines (pages 316-318

The medicinal part is the Fennel oil extracted from the ripe fruit, the dried ripe fruit, and the seeds though steam distillation.

It is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and has spread to England, Germany, South Tyrol, and Argentina. It is also found in Iran, India, and China.

Gastrointestinal Motility, antispasmodic, secretolyic action on the respiratory tract, and antimicrobial.

Dyspeptic Complaints
Peptic discomforts, feeling of fullness, flatulence, catarrh of the upper respiratory tract.

Folk medicine: fish tapeworms, skin conditions, various eye complaints (including conjunctivitis)

Allergic reactions rarely observed. Cross sensitivity with patients with celery allergy are possible. Preparations (excluding tea infusions) should not be administered during pregnancy. Preparations (excluding tea) should not be administered to small children.

The Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman 1991 (pages 165-168)

Fennel has been used as a digestive aid from the time of the Pharaohs to the present day. During the third century BC it was used to treat infant colic and 400 years later it was used as an appetite suppressant and to help nursing mothers to boost milk production. During Roman times Pliny included fennel in 22 remedies, including those for eye problems, including blindness. Later, its yellow color was thought to indicate its usage, thus was recommended for jaundice. By the 17th century Fennel was a mainstay of herbal healing. It was recommended to cure flatulence, increase milk production, and cleanse the eyes, stomach ailments, and bringing menstruation. Folk healers mixed fennel with natural laxatives to counteract intestinal cramps associated with them. During the 19th century in America fennel was prescribed as a digestive aid, for milk and menstruation promotion, and as a flavor to conceal the taste of other medicines.

Today in Latin America fennel is still prescribed as a milk promoter for nursing mothers. In Jamaica it is used to treat colds, and many Africans use it to treat diarrhea and aid indigestion. Contemporary herbalists also use fennel as digestive aid milk promoter, expectorant, eyewash, and buffer in herbal laxatives.

The Big Book of Herbs by Arthur O. Tucker, PHD and Thomas Debaggio 2000 (Pages 269-272)

In the garden, fennel attracts swallowtail butterflies which use the plant to lay their eggs on. The resulting caterpillars then feed on the leaves, and do minimal damage to the plant.

Two subspecies are known: vulgare is cultivated fennel and pipertium is the wild pepper fennel. Within the vulgare subspecies is the variation dulce also called sweet or Roman Fennel, which is cultivated for its essential oil.

The chief source of fennel seeds to the US is Egypt. Seeds are harvested at a rate of 1300-1700 lbs of seeds per acre.

Fennel and its essential oil are both generally regarded as safe however there is some studies determining of some forms of fennel are carcinogenic in children, but there has been no conclusive evidence as such. Fennel seed may be toxic to the central nervous system of newborns, so fennel tea should not be taken by nursing mothers. Fennel essential oil is an antioxidant, enhances bile secretion, is a diuretic, has analgesic properties, and is carminative, antipyretic, and antibacterial.


August 20-26 2007 Week 34

This week very much was a time for me to unwind and rejuvenate after a long three weeks. C was gone a good portion of the week and it was exactly what I needed- some time alone, to not have to cook dinner, to not even have to take a shower if I didn’t feel like it and to not have to leave the house either. When C first started traveling for work I sort of liked it, I used the time as a way for me to pamper myself, to go for sushi almost every night, to sleep late, and to really do nothing. Then as he traveled more I started to use the time to work my tail off. I would work long days while he was gone and then not do all that much while he was home except to hang out with him and pamper him all I could. Later, I just started to resent the travel, to feel abandoned and like everything was on my shoulders. I started doing things he would usually do (like taking out the garbage) and then when he returned, some how these things remained on my plate, never to be taken back by him to do again. Then I hated the travel, the time alone, the things to do, and the feeling like when he returned that I was just a maid and a cook. Doing the cleaning, making the bed, doing the laundry. He still does that, for a week after he travels he leaves the bed unmade, for it to be mysteriously made by the in hotel maid (or in this case by me). Now I just accept the travel, I still dislike it, and I still dislike his decompression from his travels, his reuniting with home live versus hotel life, but now I just plan my days and go on, if he is here or not, just do what needs to be done and that is that. It’s still lonely, and depressing, but it is the way it is. I would give up soaping and get a real job if it meant we could go back to a normal life, without him being gone so much, but if I just hang on, maybe I can have both someday.

Monday: Finally some time in the garden. I think my cucumbers have vine wilt. I just don’t know how. I didn’t see any beetles this year and it seems pretty late in the harvest for it to be this problem. Honestly, I am not heartbroken no matter what it is, I have had a great crop of cucumbers and am getting tired of eating them and figuring out what to do with them. The rest of the day was chores: chlorine in the hot tub, cleaning the cat pan, taking out the garbage, changing sheets and doing laundry. I also took a looong hot shower and scrubbed the Fest off, ran the last credit cards, did the final show inventory, paid bills and put together a grocery list. That night we brought team KB to Sogo for dinner, great sushi, lousy service, but they enjoyed and so did we so that is all that matters.

Tuesday: I got my application to the MLAC fall show complete, finished my mailing list, paid more bills, answered some emails and brought B to a doctor’s appointment and then out to lunch.

Wednesday: Went to the bank to make the Fest deposit, went to the grocery store, mailed orders, K came over for her last day and we emptied the van and did a inventory of what I had left and what I have to make. K and I brought C to lunch and then to the airport, and then stopped at the local yarn shop for a bit.

Thursday: Another trip to the airport, brought B & M so they can go on their Alaska trip. I cleaned the fridge, emptied the dishwasher and repacked it, did laundry, made salads, cleaned the coolers out from the Fest (yikes!), went to Michaels to find ribbon and stopped at AC Moore too, and then went to my sewing circle (we more knit and bead then sew, and drink, and eat, and talk….)

Friday: It was a day of yarn. I went through my stash and my pattern books and matched the two together- only 31 projects to do. I must stop buying yarn. I also balled all my cotton yarns from hanks into balls so it is easier to grab them on the way to a show so I can knit washcloths and bath mitts. I have plenty to finish this year’s inventory and to get me into next year’s as well. It took me just about all day to do this and still had a dozen or so left to ball the next day.

Saturday: I finished the yarn, hit the garden again for a few more tomatoes and cucumbers, cleaned the cat pan, took out the garbage again, and put chlorine in the hot tub again. I started knitting a vest and it looks great, now lets hope I have enough yarn.

Sunday: C was supposed to come home but had to stay one more day. I cleaned out pain brushes from when I painted the workshop, started putting clothes in my closet, did the dishes and mopped the floors. I knitted my vest more and am thinking that the pattern has a typo. I am running out of yarn and I had 100 more yards than I needed and I am knitting to gauge. This is the second time trying this vest that I have run out of yarn, the first time I thought it was because I didn’t gauge and I was using a weird lumpy yarn, now I think it may be a typo. I may have to rip this all out and try again, I hate the thought of that.


Philadelphia Folk Festival August 17-19 2007

Set Up: August 15 2007

Set up as usual went awesomely smooth. K and her friend K was with me so having the extra hands made things go very quickly. Like in past years the booth is on one heck of a hill so getting the tent even is tough and getting it to zip closed is tougher. I used some wood to shim up the one table because after a few days it started sinking into the soil and became very unstable. We were able to beat the heat some by turning on the fan as soon as we could, but it was a hot and sunny day. We set up everything except the soaps, got our credentials and called it a day.

Day 1:
It could be said that the day was slow. I don’t think it was any slower than two years ago, but it certainly was slower than last year. I am sure that a few things were the reason, first it was insanely hot, second, I didn’t know the headliner this year and last year it was Arlo Guthrie, so I am sure attendance was higher last year, and third, last year I had a corner booth with great visibility and this year I didn’t. Couple those things with a sagging economy and rising gas prices and it is easy to see why on the whole I didn’t expect this year to be as good as last year. C brought KB with him in the evening.

Day 2:
This was the best of the three days sales wise. The weather was very nice and not too hot. It was dry and dusty though, so dusty you could see it hanging over the festival at night when you looked at the lights in the parking lot. The displays were dusty, the soap was dusty, and there was really no way to prevent it. After the show the soaps needed to be washed and racked to dry again. The displays needed to be hosed down and the tent, well the tent was disgusting.

Day 3: Rain, rain, and more rain. For a day that just had a 30% chance of rain, we had a 100% chance of being rained out. The show was supposed to end at 9:30, and they pushed it back allowing crafters to leave at 7:30 and then ultimately 6:30. We couldn’t bring the cars into the field because of the rain, anytime, no matter where you were set up. May crafters were upset at this as they had to haul things quite a ways in the rain to their vehicles. We started packing around 6:45 and were on the way home by 8:30. Drenched to the skin, pretty cold, and very tired when we returned my demeanor was brightened when I counted sales, almost as good as Saturday and much better than any rained out show that I am ever at. I’d be happy for those sales anytime it rains.

As usual this is my favorite show. It surpassed sales projections given the weather and other variables. The people are great, the music is excellent, and I can say that this show is the one show a year that I truly have fun at. I enjoy others, but this one is like a little mini vacation for me, it is almost too good to be true that I can make income at it as well as have so much fun.

August 13-19, 2007 Week 33

Although tired and worn out from Musikfest I had to push through and get ready for the Philly Folk Festival. I would say that these 17 days- from set up of Musikfest to the tear down of Folk Fest are my hardest of the year. The weather is hot and physically draining the hours are long and emotionally draining and I feel as though everything goes completely out of balance and takes me weeks to recover from. After watching the ‘EMPTY” sticker go up on box after box of inventory, I am already stressing about what I need to make, what I need to buy, and how much time I do or do not have to get it done in.

Monday: I ran the last of my credit cards, paid bills, blogged the last day of Musikfest, harvested from the garden, made a bunch of salads from my harvest, and met with B for our bimonthly meeting of the minds. It won’t be for another month till we meet so my list of things to do is long and I can only hope I find the time to get things done before she comes back from vacation and grills me.

Tuesday: I did lots of chores: Put chlorine in the hot tub, took out the garbage, did my inventory for the show, did laundry, changed the sheets on the bed, went and got cat food, went to the bank, did dishes, packed the van with what I need for Folk Fest, finished making some salads, and talked to a woman about a show that I cannot attend because I am already booked for the weekend. ~ OK so that’s my pet peeve for the week- the fact that 1) if you have picked up my business card, then go to my web site, check my events page, and see if I have a show listed before you call me, and 2) don’t you think your event will get better crafters if you don’t call us all last minute? I mean those of us that are the most serious plan months, if not a year ahead of time.

Wednesday: I finished packing the last of the things into the van, K came over, and we left to set up Folk Fest. I picked up another K and the girls camped that night. (Better them than me). I got home and tried to relax a little. It was a hot day and although set up went fast, it was exhausting.

Thursday: I printed and folded hundreds of flyers, printed labels and put them on my small soap bags, delivered my order to Stone Soup Studios, filled an order to be mailed out, and imputed the mailing list additions from Musikfest.

Friday: I got up, packed my lunch, packed the van, and went to Folk Fest.

Saturday: I did inventory and ran the credit cards in the morning, printed and cut more labels for soap bags, showered, packed my lunch, and went to Folk Fest.

Sunday: Inventory, ran credit cards, packed lunch, went to Folk Fest.


August 6-12 2007 Week 32

It was the week filled with Musikfest and I started out trying to be as normal as possible and still maintain balance with my personal life and with the business. But I quickly learned that sometimes the extra sleep is worth the trade off in whatever else I wasn’t doing instead of sleeping.

Monday started out normal with the morning filled with chores- doing bills, running credit cards, counting inventory for the day before, blogging, doing laundry, changing sheets, packing my lunch and packing the van for the show, working on making pickles, and cleaning the cat water bowl, only for it not to work when I was done. Then off to the show…

Tuesday a busy morning yet again. I blogged, mailed an order, ran to the bank, checked the hot tub chem levels, ran my credit cards, packed the van with inventory, and the went to a meeting at MLAC. I got back, packed my lunch, and then ran to the show….

Wednesday I was winding down and coming to a screeching halt. What did I do before the show? I blogged, packed my lunch, packed the van, did inventory, and made some salad. I’m doing less and less…..

Thursday: Blogged, did inventory, ran credit cards, packed my lunch, and packed the van. I might have even napped a bit before I left.

Friday was a little burst of energy due to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and learning that it wasn’t a train… blogged, inventory, credit cards, printed and folded flyers, laundry, gardened, checked hot tub chems, packed lunch, packed the van, and made some copies of patterns that K wanted to try.

Saturday and Sunday- my last chance to conserve some energy- morning routine consisted of blogging, inventory, running credit cards, packing lunch, and packing the van.

C was great this week and stayed home Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night to fight through a huge list of things to do that I had left him. It included everything from dealing with the cat pan, to running errands like Target and Staples. All the work he did really let me relax quite a bit and let me sleep better knowing that it was ok, that things were getting done around the house too and that he had my back.

Musikfest Day 10, August 12, 2007

The last day! I am usually tired by now, tired due to lack of sleep, tired of the heat, the dust and grime, the same sandwiches day after day, the contact with people (I am really sort of shy and it takes a lot out of me at shows), the way my life looses balance, but in the years I have done this show I have never been so excited to see it over.

Sales were better than Saturday, but still not as good as my surprising Friday. Overall I did not do as well as I had hoped to (about 20% less than I had hoped), but still better than last year (up just 5%, but still up is good).

K started the day with me and the left to pick up KB. C came and stayed. It was the first time during the show that I wasn’t feeling my best, with my stomach acting up. But that was better than pervious years where It was only a few days into the fest before I stated having problems. I think my moratorium on eating fest food did the trick and allowed me to survive relatively intact. K & K returned in the early evening and we were surprised my B & M as well. It was a regular little party going on in my booth.

I have to apologize to M for not blogging on Friday that he braved the rain to come visit me at my booth during lunch. He made it down dry, stayed during a shower, and left missing the rain. Pretty good for a guy without an umbrella with him. I didn’t forget him or his visit, it is just the days blur together and honestly I just forgot what day he came by!

B & M stayed till the end, watching the fireworks with us, then M got the car and B stayed for a while watching us pack up. K & K both helped us pack as well. It was very orderly because K suggested that rather than unpack the entire car we should make note of what we need for the next show and just leave it all packed, saving us at least a ½ day of work. So we packed slower and more methodically, noting everything that was low on inventory. Once the inventory was packed, we tore down and packed the van. The whole process, only about an hour and a half, making us on our way home about 12:30 am. Even with the idiot factor (the people who load out and just don’t care and block everything, and drive too fast, and generally act like idiots), it was a relatively safe and easy dismantle.

It is usually B who ends her blog entries with a song, but all I can hum is “another one bites the dust”….

Musikfest Day 9 August 11, 2007

It was surprising to me that Saturday’s sales were not as good as Fridays. Still, the second weekend this year was defiantly the stronger one for me by a long shot, and that isn’t even thinking of Sunday. The weather was just beautiful, the sun was out there was a slight breeze and the humidity was almost bearable.

Like other days I started out catching up on my reading, just a few dozen magazines to go before I have them all finished. I have learned quite a few interesting things, from some new recipes to try, to some new ways of getting funding and loans. I have quite a list of things to research and I really hope that one day I can get to them all. I need to start researching one thing a week and try and get through the pile I have.

I am sorry to say that the show itself was uneventful. I knitted, K knitted, and we sold soap when people came by the booth. C was supposed to be over early in the afternoon, but locked himself out of the house while mowing the lawn. He had to break in and then clean up his mess, and then ponder exactly how to fix what he had broken to gain entry. It is good to know that our home isn’t exactly the easiest to break into. I guess that deters the more honest and more stupid thieves.

I was happy that I got 10 washcloths knitted so far. I had a goal of 150 for the year and now only have 30 more to go. Once I finish these I have 50+ more bath mitts to go before my goal is reached there. But I had expected that it would take me until October to finish and it looks like these may be the one thing that I actually get done on schedule this year. Then I’ll start knitting next year’ stash- I’ll probably need 200 of each I am sure.
So as the show winds down my list of things to do grows, more and more boxes of soap are empty, meaning I need to get on the ball and get soap made, as well as boxes of lotion bars and bath fizzys, all empty. It’s a good thing, it means sales are brisk, but I really didn’t expect to be so far into my inventory so early in the season. It also looks like I have a sure winner on my hands, it looks like my new fragrance Red Clover & Tea is popular and will be carried into my regular line next year. I already need to make more, lots more. I actually won’t have it on hand for a few shows in September at this rate


Musikfest Day 8 August 10, 2007

Maybe the sales train has finally pulled into the station. They were brisk and so was the weather. The temperature dropped almost 40 degrees and the day that was supposed to be rainy and 75 was cloudy, windy, and I swear close to freezing (ok 60 during the day and approaching 50 when I left for home). K and I froze in our shorts and short sleeved T’s, so I went and bought us some long sleeved T’s from another vendor. It was either that or Musikfest sweatshirts (if they even existed). That helped quite a bit but I was chilled to the core by the time I got home.

K started knitting some fingerless mittens and I got her all messed up on them, what a cruddy teacher I am. But she is doing better than I would have done for my first time knitting on double pointed needles and just learning how to purl too!

K hung out till C came after work. I love having C come but it is much different than when K is there. K works, C hangs out and gives me bathroom breaks, and works when he thinks I am overwhelmed, which isn’t all too often. It is hard for me to adjust when I have them both in one day.

That is about it, I think my teeth are still chattering. Need to check the weather so I dress appropriately today, and maybe I’ll get in the hot tub for a bit before I go.

Musikfest Day 7 August 9 2007

Day seven sales wise was much better than I expected it to be. The day was brutally hot and even though I am only writing this blog entry about 48 hours later, the day itself is just a blur. In the morning I came in, got the tent ready and spent some quality hours catching up on my reading. I get many magazines and I wait till this show and bring them in, reading what I find interesting, ripping out pages of stuff that I should look into deeper, and just skimming the rest. I get through about 5 a day this way, totally emptying my magazine basket next to my chair in the living room. Then they just all pile up and I wait until Chriskindlmarkt to do it all again.

The evening was fun because I had team KB there (K and her beau K), so the conversation was excellent, it was fun to work, and they both work so hard I just sort of get to relax, at least until I need to run a credit card. I think that is why my total sales for the day was sort of surprising, because I didn’t really have a hand in many of the sales so my internal calculator was off.

I did have my first credit card of the season be declined and it was one of those sales that your gut instinct thinks may not be the best decision. But the sale was small and I’ll try it again one more time before calling the customer to try and arrange alternate payment. It is tempting to just let it go because the work to get the money is probably not worth the amount of the sale, but it is the principle behind it so I’ll give it a go and see what I get.

Rejected cards are always depressing and I always rethink my processing. See I use an old fashioned knuckle buster manual imprinter to take a card imprint and to get a signature, plus phone and zip. Then when I get home I manually enter this into a terminal to get the charge to go through. I always take the chance of letting product leave the booth that isn’t really paid for yet. But I have so few cards get declined, and typically for such low dollar amounts, I can’t see to pay for the units where I can swipe it at the show and use WiFi or some other technology to send it in immediately. I mean, even if I never get this sale back, the loss is much, much less that I would pay for a spiffy terminal and the service associated with it. So I keep on going on and dealing with these small annoyances of being a small business owner trying to get by on the least amount of overhead possible.

Well, that’s it for the day, hot, hot, hot with lukewarm sales.


Musikfest Day 6 August 8, 2007

It’s officially more than half way over and I can’t explain how happy I am to know that this year. The day was another hot, humid, heat index warning sort of day and there was little movement by anyone- customers or vendors, until after the sun want down. You could tell, people just looked and didn’t want to move too much or touch anything, and they certainly didn’t get my most energetic sales techniques. It was hot, and moving made it worse.

In the morning I read some magazines and tried to finish knitting a wash cloth but my fingers were too sticky to accomplish it. I got up and walked around a few times to fight off my desire to doze off and nap (the hot always makes me want to nap). All the crafters I spoke to agreed that it was officially stupid question day, it was like the heat sucked out everyone’s brains, because not only were we getting some of the most weird and unusual questions, many of us felt stumped at least once ourselves, I mean the answer was at the tip of our tongues but the heat just snatched it away. I couldn’t think of words and terms that I use all the time, it was crazy.

K came in the afternoon and hung till the end. She brought me dinner- the best hot dogs on the plant from Jimmy’s in Easton. Yum! Once it cooled down we knitted and actually sold some soap. It wasn’t a great day for a Wednesday, but it sure could have been worse.

That’s it, they day in a nutshell, boring…

Musikfest Day 5 August 7, 2007

Horary for K! I say this because she opened the booth for me this morning so I could attend a meeting down at MLAC. It was nice to feel normal in the middle of chaos and go and do something for another show a few months from now. It reminds me this show that is kicking my butt much more than in previous years, has an end, that it is in sight, and that there are better things lurking on the horizon. I have to admit though the meeting brings out the competitor in me. Being on the committee, means we get worksheets that break down items such as sales per artist and percentage of inventory sold per artist. I always have to see where I rank compared to others, and dare I say it, see if I sold more or less than the other soap maker at the event. I mean it isn’t like I really do anything with the info, other than either smile or pout for a few hours, but I do find it motivating sometimes to know where I stand amongst those I believe are elite artisans.

The day itself was hot, very hot, heat index warning kind of hot, but surprisingly not as hot as I expected it to be. When I arrived at the show I was angry, the lot that I am supposed to park in was full, not because it had too many cars, but because the cars that were there have no clue how to park and not leave close to a car length between each other. All that wasted space, but not enough room to parallel park a minivan anywhere. So I had to pay for parking, and I showed my parking pass to the lot attendants, now this lot is not 20 feet away from the lot I am supposed to park in, so I explained my situation and asked for a break on the parking, not free, a break, to which they said no and took my $10 and helped me back in. Now if I wasn’t leaving at night with things to carry I would have gone elsewhere but I needed the proximity factor too much to argue. So here is my suggestion- use a volunteer, and help us park, just for a few hours in the morning…. please…

The girl scouts that run a camp type thing during the festival came and interviewed me. They were good questions, like where do I see the market going and what are some of the pros and cons of running your own business. K was there to listen and she said I did pretty good. It was fun.

Late afternoon they called for rain, but it didn’t come until late, while I was asleep, with scary lightening that woke me up and K said it woke her up too, both of us with thoughts of the tents being blown away… we need to relax..

Quote for the day: (speaking about the Patchouli fragranced soap) “It’s so you can actually be clean, but still retain a dirty hippy smell”. Priceless!


July 30-August 5, Week 31

This week was all about prep for Musikfest, NOT!. I sure wanted this show to be another week away rather than a few days away. But I did my best, tried to eat good, get plenty of rest, and drink water, really just take care of myself before the onslaught of 10 furiously hot days.

Monday I ran CC’s from the weekend’s sales, and did my inventory. I also did my chores, like paying bills. C and I emptied my van filled with inventory so K and I could go to Ikea for the day and pick up some new cabinets for my workshop. When we got back we reloaded the van with inventory and displays. I started to clean off my desk, which means wading through my list of things to do and actually doing them. I also froze some green peppers and some eggplants to use later in the year.

Tuesday: I caught up on my blog- only 4 posts behind. Did chores (cat pan, dishes, cleaning the fridge, garbage, laundry, hot tub maintenance, etc). I went to a meeting in the morning with Stone Soup Studios and they are going to be carrying my most popular fragrances right after Musikfest is over and in the afternoon I went to the Mayfair meeting which I blogged about in a separate post. I also went to the post office, bank and Home Depot to get paint and supplies. Oh and I wrapped some Soap on a Rope too…

Wednesday: Blogged, did laundry, K came and we emptied my workshop, painted the walls primer grey and he first coat of my floor beige. After she left I went to the grocery store to get food for the festival. That night I made Taziki (spelled wrong maybe) and some pickles. I also tried to clean up the kitchen the best I could.

Thursday: K and I set up for Musikfest. I also did laundry and went to that darn Post office again. That night I had been invited to a Sewing Circle by my friend Sue so I went and had a great time. I knitted, Sue made some jewelry and the rest of the ladies bottled handcrafted beer and wine. It was fun to see and learn about the process. It was also a nice way to feel normal and human pre-Musikfest.

Friday: The morning before the show was busy. I blogged, cleaned the fridge, brought out the garbage, cleaned the cat pan, packed the van, folded flyers, packed my lunch, and filled and order. I also made a point to cross the street and buy some lemonade from the kids with the lemonade stand. I guess being a crafter gives me a soft spot for the entrepreneurial spirit. I stopped by Stone Soup to pick up some flyers to hand out at the show and then went and set up and did the show.

Saturday: Before the show I blogged, mailed another order, did inventory, ran credit cards, packed my lunch, packed the van, printed and folded flyers, gardened, and started making refrigerator super sweet pickles.

Sunday pre show I did a lot of the same things I did on Saturday: blogged, packed the van, packed lunch, printed and folded flyers, did inventory, ran credit cards, worked on those pickles more and made some marinated cucumber and tomato salad.

Musikfest Day 4 August 6 2007

Zzzzzz….Zzzzzzz…..gasp, snort, *look of astonishment on my face*…sorry I dozed off for a bit…the day was a tad bit boring you know….

Sales were exactly where I pegged them to be so there was no surprise there. The morning gave me some time to knit, to read some magazines I needed to catch up on, and to start working on some spreadsheets that I have wanted to do for the business. K came over about 5 and we chilled for the remainder of the evening.

We had a small MacGyver moment because K’s knitting got caught up in the fan. After borrowing some pliers from J next door we got it all apart, then K got the yarn unwound, and everything put back together, and voila! It worked again!

K started knitting a hat and I finished up her last bath mitt she was doing as well as finishing a washcloth or two myself.

That’s the day in a nutshell, nothing too interesting, except wait… I got a big bag of free toothpaste. Guess the toothpaste people brought more than they can hand out this show so they were giving away as much as you wanted. I took a bag and gave it to K, I figured she can use it at college and so can her beau K, and her friends, it saves them a couple of bucks. That was the most fun part of the day.


Musikfest Day 3 August 5 2007

Up until the time it rained it was a pretty good day. I think sales for Sunday would have surpassed Saturday if the rain hadn’t started about 9. Most of the other crafters were gone by 10 pm and honestly, I was in my car by 10:15 and on my way home. The weather was warm but it seemed much less humid than the day before. The rains weren’t too heavy and at least they weren’t accompanied by thunder, lightening, wind, or hail.

Overall the show is pretty quiet. I have had a lot of repeat customers, who I love dearly. I think I understand how actors and other performers can be so hooked on the love and adoration of their fans, some of the things people say about my products really does just make me blush sometimes. C just laughs and my step dad thinks I put something other than soap in my soap because sometimes he thinks my mom is addicted to it.

K came and hung out with me until C surprised me and showed up and hung with me till the end of the show. It was so nice to have the company and the ability to walk around a little, visit a little and honestly, just be able to pee when I need to. I haven’t seen as many volunteers in the craft area as there has been in year’s past. Today was the first time someone came to see if I needed a break or anything and it has always seemed like that happened much more frequently.

I read a few magazines in the morning and got a washcloth knit in the afternoon. The abbreviated evening went by fast. It didn’t seem too crowded though, still an easy commute to and from the bathroom. I wonder how much that has to do with the fact that the big food vendor from previous years has left, taking their long lines with them, opening up the walkway for people to walk, rather than get stuck in a bottle neck caused by a line for food. I’m sure it is some of the reason it’s easier to get through.


Musikfest 2007 Day 2 August 4

The day started out pretty much as most days at Musikfest start out, you open your tent, you set things up, and you sit and sweat. It is only around 5 pm when the crowds start to come out, and the people start to spend money. I do think there is a direct correlation between how much you drink and how much you spend. Typically a little alcohol opens the wallet more easily, but too much means that people aren’t making any sort of decision and aren’t spending a thing.

For the afternoon I just caught up on stuff. I read a few magazines and finished assembling a bunch of bath mitts. Tried to relax and rest as much as possible, this show is a long haul and it doesn’t do you any good to get too tired right out of the gate. The temperature soared and I don’t think I had one conversation with a customer that didn’t involve the weather and impending heat wave. The grass was dry and the dust started kicking up, it lays on everything and drives my allergies wild. It has been like this for the past few years because the creek keeps flooding, depositing fine silt where we put our booths and this silt just gets everywhere.

The evening was uneventful but fun. K came and brought her beau, K. they worked the stand while I sat back and watched, they are pretty good at this and I think between the two of them they know everyone in town. It was great to have company and good conversation. They are two very smart young people who have their heads on their shoulders and their whole life ahead of them. I like hanging out with them a lot.

It seems after 5 the night went pretty fast, with it marked every hour by the bell guy playing, it always amazes me how fast the night goes. It is like having a giant, loud, repetitive, grandfather clock tolling away the hours. On the whole the day was fair, I would have been very happy with $100 more in sales, but alas, it did not happen…many others were also complaining of the slow night and I felt that there were less people there, my trips to the WC were easy, I didn’t have to fight the huge crowd like usual. Strange way to determine how busy the place is ehh? Gauging it by how easy your walk to and from the loo is.


Musikfest 2007 Day 1 August 3

Whew, the first day was tiring, but in that sort of way where at the end of the day your are revved up and a little wound on adrenaline, and you just know you’ll have a hard time falling asleep, even though you are beat tired.

I left the house around noon and picked up some water and some ice for the cooler on the way in. I also picked up some flyers for Stone Soup Studio, a store in Bethlehem on Broadway which will start carrying some of my best sellers in just a few weeks. I’m trying to create some buzz by passing out info on them before we even get the product stocked.

I got a pretty good parking space, the first one in line in the CW lot before the break for the curve. I was parked after the sigh, but before the caution tape marking the no parking zone, so just in case I got a wayward parking ticket, I actually took some pictures of where I was parked and the locations of the signs and tape. I mean, who know if that tape would be ripped down, or even moved by some clever Musikfest goer? This way I would at least have a chance of not paying the fine…

It was very hot throughout the set up, but I learned I have great neighbors; F & J make awesome jewelry and are awesome people as well. I am also near A, another jewelry maker I have known for years. S is down at the end, near the entrance and we are good buddies, and G is here too, with his entourage. So the “family” I know and love is here, a little spread out, but here all the same. But like all family reunions, there is always someone who doesn’t make it. Sometimes its is people like B, who you just miss in your core the moment you arrive, some are like another B, that at first you are glad are gone, that you won’t have as much drama, and then after just one day, you realize how much more fun the event was with just a little drama, and then there is I who you really expected to be there and whose absence actually makes you worry about them, their health, and why after all these years they are missing.

The show opened officially at 5 but didn’t really seem to pick up until 8 and then for just a few hours. The day was oppressively hot and that was the time the heat finally began to break and even then most people were still too hot, you could see it on their rosy cheeks, their sweat filled brows. I don’t keep sales records per day, I probably should, but sales felt slow and draggy, I got lots of lookers and got to see many, many old friends, loyal customers that I only see at Musikfest. I know they’ll be back later in the event to do their buying, so no worries, I have 9 more days and 45 more performances of “The Bell Guy” to sit through before this is all over.

Here are a few pictures, they are "a view from the booth" or what I see all day when I stare out my tent. There is a day picture and a night picture.


Musikfest- Day 0 Set Up

K got to the house around 9 am, we packed the last few things we needed (so we thought) and headed over to set up. Once we arrived, I realized that the TOP of the tent was still sitting in my shed, so off we went to pick it up and then drive back to try the set up again. I don’t know what I did to make them mad, but my nice cool spot in the shade where none of my product melts is two spaces over, and I am in the hot, hot sun. with crappy, “I can’t be in my booth barefoot” grass, I can say that I am not a happy camper and I really hope that I don’t end up having to put lip balms and lotion bars in a cooler to keep them at an acceptable temperature.

We set up the tent and then took a break, wading ankle deep in the cool creek nearby. Once we finished getting unloaded I decided that was enough for the day, I’ll put out product the next day, no reason to suffer. We swung over to the Banana Factory so K could pick up her volunteer T-shirt and watch the video they show the volunteers, but she squeaked out without the video.

Lunch was at Balasia, a vegetarian restaurant in Emmaus. The food is beyond excellent, and we ate till we were full and still had dessert. The desserts are from a local place that makes some of the best desserts I have ever had, plus they are totally vegan. It was a great way to cap off a hot day of work and a great last supper (ok lunch) before a few weeks of only eating sandwiches for lunch and dinner.

Recipe (or Tip) of the Week- Musikfest

Top 10 Musikfest tips for 2007- from me, an artist at Handwerkplatz, who actually has only attended the festival once as a normal festival goer and not as an artisan.

10) Walk around, see everything, that includes the artisans and even sit and listen to some polka for a few minutes. You don’t need to love it, you need to experience it, there is lots of music out there to try from many different cultures, you may be surprised what you like, and at the very least, enjoy people watching and watching people enjoy themselves and each other.

9) Don’t get too drunk. Try and remember that the alcohol has a diuretic effect- this means you will need to pee a lot (in porta pottys) and will be thirsty (and water isn’t cheap). And on the 95+ degree days, drinking a lot will increase your changes for dehydration and heat stroke. Not to mention being an adult and stumbling around drunk makes you look like an ass.

8) Prepare for the weather. The hot can be brutal, and dusty. The rain can be warm, cold, light, or hard. And yes, it will probably rain on days they don’t think it will, and not rain on days they do. Bring a backpack, carry raincoats, and just go on rain or shine. It can actually be more fun in the rain- less people and easier parking.

7) Parking sucks, even for those of us with a parking pass. Get there early, and please, please don’t park in a marked lot. We need to park there, get to our booths/areas quickly and safely, both at the beginning of the festival and at the end. It is not easier “to pay the ticket than to look for parking”. Most of us vendors make our living doing this and making us walk farther (and even sometimes pay for parking) because you are parking in our spaces is a really bad way to start and end our day, and ultimately, you pay for it, both in the ticket and at our stands, because our prices rise to cover expenses.

6) We are not information booths, if you need information go to an information booth or find a volunteer. Honestly, if it’s not the closet potty to my stand, or the same dozen vendors I am near all festival, I really have NO CLUE what is going on. I spend 120 or so hours in a 10x10 tent, honestly trying to make as much money as possible.

5) Don’t treat free food samples like they are there for you to eat as lunch (or dinner). There is plenty of free things to do and enjoy, if you want a snack, buy one. I say this because a few years ago our local newspaper did a huge disservice to a small company by announcing their free samples were not only available, but a free alternative to buying a snack or meal. Yes they got a crowd, yes they did make some sales, but they went through a ton of product to boot, just giving out samples to people who had no intention of buying, ever.

4) Be nice. Be nice to the volunteers, the security, the vendors, the musicians and entertainment, just be nice to everyone. You will get it in return. This is a place to have fun, so have fun.

3) Pack and bring in some food and water. Now I know this isn’t supposed to happen and if you do it you are sort of breaking the rules, but man prices are hefty, and lines can be long. I have a great cooler that is a backpack, stick in some frozen water bottles, some cookies and chips, and maybe even a bologna sandwich. You’ll thank me. But don’t try walking in carrying around a huge cooler, its frowned upon. If you get a good parking space you can leave your big cooler in the car and just walk back for a snack too. Then you can turn on your car and blast the AC while you eat.

2) Try and keep porta pottys clean. I mean, people, just because they aren’t yours to clean doesn’t mean you don’t need to aim. Enough said.

1) And my number one tip is to dress accordingly. If you are 60 and don’t look 16, don’t try and dress like it. Bras are not optional (for most people, you know who you are). Flat shoes work best, there is a lot of walking and some of it is on grass, or in the mud. I’m all for fashion, but if you are all emo, or goth, or whatever the "I dress in all black" fashion is called these days, at least wear black shorts, you can’t really be comfortable in all that garb. It makes me hot just to look at you.


Links of the Week

Well once again, a strikingly eclectic mix of things that I have found interesting on the Internet.

The first is actually a few sites about being Child Free. What is Child Free? Well, it is much like being Childless, without the longing or desire to have or add children to your family unit. There are a lot of reasons to be Child Free, mine is honestly, a complete and utter disgust at the thought of actually being pregnant, going through all those physical and hormonal changes, and then releasing a child through bodily orifices into the world. It literally makes my skin crawl when I think about it. Now let me explain two things, this does not mean I may never raise a child, it just means there will be a huge chance that I have no biological connection to it, I like the idea of adoption. Also, if the current techniques I am using to avoid pregnancy fail, I do not believe in abortion as birth control. But I digress, there has been some links I have come across about being Child Free, like this one at Desert News, and monthly online magazine called Unscripted, sometimes I think most of the contributors are much more attached to being Child Free for life than I am, I’ll just see where life takes me and see if anything changes my mind, I’m still young, and there are still thousands of children who need homes, maybe some year mine will be ready for one, but not anytime soon.

Here is a great link for the Imelda Marcos in your life: Toms Shoes. For every pair of shoes you purchase for yourself they donate a pair of shoes to a needy child. Is there a better way to increase your shoe collection and help the world at the same time? They have shoes for women, men, and children, and even have some hand painted versions. While not high style, they seem great for the beach, hanging around the house, running errands, or anyplace else you may wear tennis shoes.

I have always been interested in Origami, but other than a simple paper crane, I never got that deep into doing it, but I sure can appreciate it. Oriland is over the top Origami. From the home page that makes me think “It’s a small world after all” should be playing in the background, right to some of the most complex Origami I have ever seen, it makes me want to break out small pieces of pastel paper and start folding!

And finally, since I haven’t done a Yarny Sunday Post this past week, here are some of the most awesome hardwood needles that I have come across. Winter Rose Knitting where all the needles are made by hand from a variety of hardwoods. They make my mouth water with their beauty. I plan on getting my mom a pair for her birthday for sure.


Wednesday Rant

This week’s rant is on the level of “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!” See, this year (and in year’s past) Mayfair Festival of the Arts has been going through some pains. First they gated the festival, then they just about went bankrupt, they went quite a few changes in their leadership ranks, attendance plummeted, sales were down, and attrition amongst artisans and food vendors was high. So this year they decided to have a meeting of the artisans to see what went wrong and how to fix it…

First, they held the meeting on a Tuesday, at 3pm. Now I brought up the fact that I felt that this time and date was exclusionary, but hey, it’s only my perception. I mean, if I was holding a meeting for a group of people who may or may not have day jobs to sustain themselves, a Tuesday at 3pm isn’t when I would hold it to get the most attendance. I mean either you have a day job and can’t come, or your are a full time artisan and producing things is your day job and you can’t come. It was also held two days before the set up for one of the Valley’s longest and most grueling places to be a vendor- Musikfest. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think they REALLY wanted to hear from us.

Second, I can’t believe the crappy agenda. I mean they get dozens of after show surveys from artists and they admitted they read them. Then go through, pick out the good and bad points and be sure you touch upon them. Not this free form meeting. I mean, is it just the project manager in me that has enough sense to actually be able to run a meeting in a logical way? Maybe I am in the wrong job and I need to start producing craft shows. Yikes!

And the silly questions! “Do other shows warn you of the weather, how do they do it, and what do they say?” WHAT! Are these intelligent people running this? I wouldn’t admit this question even if I had it, it makes you look totally incompetent. Let’s see... a NOAH radio? What, $40 at Radio Shack and a few AAA batteries? I mean I have one I often bring to small shows that I don’t trust for this info, I didn’t bring it this year and I should have. My bad. I learned it is now packed for EVERY show, regardless.

And my final rant is my HUGE disappointment in the local crafting community. They clam the invitation was sent to almost 40 local artisans and only two showed up, and only one of us is still a full time craftsperson and planning to maybe attend the show again next year. We all can bitch and moan to each other, we all can bitch and moan on paper in surveys, but when it comes to having a forum, obviously we shrink away and do not want to make changes, we as a community want to make excuses. So you don’t plan on coming back, who cares, help your community by giving just a few hours to make a local event better. Look at the big picture, maybe if this show was better, others in the area would grow, and we can stop traveling like crazy and spending huge money on gas, tolls, and hotels, just to find decent shows. Makes me sick that only two showed up. Just sick.