Dec 10-18

Every Monday I get up early to hang out with C before he leaves for a business trip. This Monday was different because he didn't have to go till the afternoon, but he did have to go to the Netherlands so that added some stress to my week. I certainly didn't sleep all that well and the time difference makes it hard to have more than a few text communications each day. I didn't even sleep late, I was wide awake before 7 am and started my weekly routine: bank then grocery store, then home to put food in the slow cooker, then mailing orders, packing inventory, paying bills, catching up on phone calls, and of course catching up on this blog.

So Tuesday after a fitful nights sleep it was back to paperwork, figuring out last month's sales tax, entering new emails into the newsletter database, and making some more sachets. Luckily I mixed in a nap and got to chill and watch a movie that night.

Wednesday was delivering inventory to Chriskindlmarkt, putting gas in the van, and then generally trying to chill out the best I could. I am pretty sure there was another nap or two in there.

Thursday-Sunday was Chriskindlmarkt again. It started out really strong on Thursday but the mood dampened considerably after the news came out on Friday afternoon. It was very hard to stand there and continue to smile when all I wanted to do was go home and cry. I think the singer/songwriter Dina Hall said it best in her blog, I just had to be a voice of peace and calm, and goodness. Inside I was screaming "go home, hug your babies, hug your neighbors babies, hug all the babies you can find", but outside I was doing just that, hugging all the children that came in and thanking their parents for letting me pass on a little love that was overspilling my heart. Saturday things kinda returned to normal, some people wanted to talk about Connecticut, many just wanted to enter those tents and suspend their fears and doubts. I just celebrated all that is good and light and love in the world. Sunday was kinda slower than I had expected it to be, but really I had hit a wall, I was so physically and emotionally tired, I just wanted to go home. It was hard to stay smiles and cheer, and luckily the day is shorter, and by then C was home and I knew I could get a good night's sleep.

Dad did phenomenally well at Christmas City Village. But we have decided this will be his last year there. The cold is just too much for him. He needs indoor shows, and shorter hours, and less days in a row. So look for him at other places in town next year. There are lots to choose from for us.

Monday brought on another early morning, and the usual routine. Lots of orders to get out so that they have a chance to make it there in time for Christmas. I finally made it to Pint's N Purls, my weekly knitting group, and we had our Holiday gift exchange. I was so glad I could make it there, I was worried I would fall asleep before I had to leave.

Today I work up later than ever, 7:30 am. This might as well be noon for me, the early bird. And now I am catching up here. This afternoon I deliver orders, and other random errands. But it will be an early night, maybe I can fit in a movie.

Hope you all had a safe and joyous week and I hope to see you this weekend, the last weekend of Chriskindlmarkt for 2012!


Dec 3-9 2012

So the three days that I have "off" are always such a blur. on Mondays I run around going to the grocery store, bank, and any other errands. Try to get caught up on phone messages, emails, and getting orders out, then do paperwork, like keeping track of taxes and printing any labels I need and all that fun stuff.

Tuesdays I go into the workshop for a few hours. I make up gift baskets, fizzy baskets, any inventory that needs to be made (this week was some bath fizzys to wrap and label), made sachets, and generally tried to keep all that straight so I don't run out of anything.

Wednesday morning I go over and drop off inventory at the show. This makes Thursday mornings easier because I don't have to fight to get in the door while other people are getting there and setting up. I can leisurely park farther way and stroll on in. Then in the afternoon I try to relax, knit a little, watch a little TV, get to bed early and be rested for another weekend at the show.

Christkindlmarkt was fantastic this week. Saturday was by far the best day yet. 2010 was my best year ever and I may actually meet/exceed those sales (but it will take me all 6 weeks, rather than the 4 in 2010). But with some nasty weather looming and who knows what else, I am not planning on it. It would just be exciting to have a great year again after last year's disappointment.

Dad did well at Christmas City Village. His Saturday was by far his best day there so far this year but it still doesn't hold a candle to how well he was doing last year. It is certainly nothing to sneeze at or to not be thankful for, but we will have to take a good look at the show and decide if the days and days of cold and damp on his old bones is worth the deposit slip at the end. Some things money just can't buy and knowing your dad is happy and comfortable is one of those things worth more than money.

So that is it, the quick synopsis of the week.

There was certainly more drama in there. Some things were said in anger and frustration, and although I really wish to share them with you, it isn't in the best interest of the party who said them, so I will hold my tongue rather than wage a war. All I can say is that sometimes things bring out the worst in people and one of these two events has been doing just that. It is sad to see someone you have liked and respected for many years become angry over the hurt they feel. But I am glad I can recognize it for what it is and not take things personally for too long.

That being said, hope to see you this week and if you have already been by, THANK YOU!


November 26-Dec 2

Monday through Wednesday was "relatively" stress free. I had orders to mail out and things to make (like gift baskets) and paperwork to deal with (like bills), but I got to sneak in a few afternoon naps and a few movies while knitting too.

Chriskindlmarkt for me was the best weekends so far. I think we are really getting into the swing of the holiday buying season. Not everyone has been as blessed as I have been and I really just have my loyal customers to thank for supporting me year after year. I know right now there are more and more places you can get natural soaps (even some grocery stores), so continuing to pay a little more to get a local product and support a small artisan is an amazing thing to be doing. Every purchase has a direct impact on me and my family and allows me to keep following my passion. I am so thankful.

Dad had a strong sales week at Christmas City Village too. It was still down from last year, and sometimes that is just a sophomore slump that new events tend to go through. But I have to say that the overwhelming amount of non-crafts is sending me to start researching for alternative shows for next year. I have too many customers that tell me that they come out to a show that I am at, even if they don't need soap, because I am typically at "good shows". I just don't feel this is living up to my expectations, or what my customers would want to see if they came out to see it. There is not much they can't get at their local boutique. In fact some booths are people who have stores in nearby towns who have brought things from their stores (mass produced) to sell. This is unfair not only to me, an artisan, but to the boutiques and stores of Bethlehem. The fact that the Downtown Business Association has let this happen, and seems to encourage it, is appalling to me. I can't in good conscience come back next year to an event that undermines the very people it claims to support.

The surprise for the weekend was the Handmade Hive. A new boutique style show (where the artisan sets up a display, but the staff sell the product), in Hellertown, PA was FANTASTIC! When I pulled in to drop off my inventory I kinda worried. The hall it was held in was a little off the beaten path and the peg board displays felt a little industrial, but when I came back that evening to finish setting up prior to the preview party I was overwhelmed by the quality of the crafters they had there, how nice it looked, and how amazingly well organized it was for a first time event. Sales quickly exceeded my expectations, in fact I sold the first night what I though I would sell all weekend. I am super happy that they plan on a springtime event and that I get to be a part of that too!

OK, it is time for me to get back to work and stop chatting with all of you. Hope to see you soon!


November 19-25- an exhausting week

So I came off the fist week of Chriskindlmarkt hoping that I would be able to squeeze in a day off, but there was no such luck.

 Monday through Thursday Dad was mostly over at Christmas City Village trying to get the floors in and the shelves on and the hut decorated and loaded in. It really sucked for him. The huts were supposed to be up weeks before and all this work was supposed to be completed at a leisurely pace in warmer weather. But instead he had to rush around and then do extra work we didn't expect like reinforce to roofs so they didn't leak. He did this for ours and for a few of our friends he had been in contact with during the year, but I hate to say this will probably be the last time he does it for anyone else but us. It was just too much and it really started out his show on a sour note and started him out much more tired than he should have been. When you have two people starting a long stretch of shows exhausted, it doesn't always make for the best family moments at home.

So while he worked I made sure I cooked every night so there was decent food for him when he got home and I worked hard in the shop to get out orders, make up gift baskets, and generally catch up on the paperwork, the emails, and the laundry.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and we had a simple day with just the three of us. I made both turkey and ham and three sides (mashed potatoes, corn casserole, and cauliflower casserole) so that there would be plenty of leftovers for the weekend to come.

As for the shows. Christmas City Village opened to a disappointing weekend. Maybe it was the cold, maybe it was all the black Friday sales, maybe it was the fact that the show was looking more like a refugee camp than a craft show, but the sales were just not there. The spirit of the show wasn't being followed and the bulk of the vendors had dragged out tables and bins to sell outside rather than from the huts. They couldn't even cover the tables and look respectable, it was a flea market look, and that brings flea market buyers and flea market prices. The overwhelming dumbing down of today's arts and craft shows is killing an industry by slowly strangling out the places a handcrafted artisan can sell and compete.

This brings me to Chriskindlmarkt. Slowly transforming itself from an arts and craft show to a marketplace is killing us there too. There are artisans not being present at the festival, UPC codes on cottage industry products being sold along side hand crafted works, food samples strewn throughout the event leaving little cups everywhere (often still full of samples, destroying products and displays of other people when they spill). . This dilutes the brand, muddies the marketplace, and confuses the customer. Why should they pay to come into a show that in their mind offers the same thing as a shopping mall does for free?

That all being said, THANK YOU to everyone who has come the first two weekends, and to everyone who plan on coming the next four. My sales have been amazing so far this year and I cannot explain my joy when you like my products enough to give them as gifts and to share them with your family and friends. Thank you for coming every year, thank you for supporting me and my passion, thank you for being there.

Hope to see you all soon!


Chriskindlmarkt Weekend 1

Well I'll be darned, I did better than I thought I would! So no complaints here.

I adore my new spot, I am by super friendly people, I am not too far from the bathrooms, and I think I have a good location for customers as well. The new display really seems to to be well liked. It really is inviting and easy to maneuver. I have been selling lots of things that I usually didn't sell, like shave mugs and gift baskets, so I think these things really have a highlight and are better seen than past years.

Ed Youtz turned me some shaving brush handles and I sold 5 of the 6 shaving brushes I had this first weekend, and this is supposed to be the quiet weekend! He is busily turning away these days off and I am patiently waiting for the brush knots to arrive so that I can assemble them and get them back out for people to see.. I might have to "take orders" for them this weekend... hmm. that is an idea...

I also get in the felted soaps this weekend. The owner of a local alpaca farm has felted some of my soaps for me to offer this year. She sells them year around, but this will be my first foray into selling some too. I have no idea what the reaction will be.

The mini soaps have been popular, I am already out of the oatmeal and the rejuvenations are close behind. Also have gotten a few leads for personalized soaps for a baby shower and a wedding, so that is really cool if those pan out.

I got another order from Spehericality in Flemington NJ this weekend so they needed to stock up, and that is super exciting!

Well just a quick update for now, I have got to get going. I need to go pick up more shave mugs and soap dishes! Bebe is just emptying out the kiln today!

Hope to see you soon!


November 5-14 The big push

Yes! All the soap on the to do list is done! I have a few last special orders to ship in the next few days and then then it will just be rolling with the punches and making whatever needs to be made the rest of the year.

I got all the lip balms done too. The only thing left on the list is some bath fizzys and I am going to hold off on those and see how my current inventory sells before jumping in and making more of anything. Some years are great for fizzys and some not so great, and since I need to buy supplies I would rather wait on spending the money until I know I need to make them.

Orders have been rolling in. That is very exciting. I really love the mail orders. There is something validating about getting a mail order. It means that the product isn't just a quick purchase, someone took the time to go online and buy, and so many of them come from far away so it makes me smile to let my soap out into the world past the Lehigh Valley.

Last night I set up (mostly) for Chriskindlmarkt. I am in a new spot and I LOVE it! I love my neighbors and the location. I might not think the same in 6 weeks, but it has to be better than last year.

I also have a new display that I think is that cat's meow. I have to tweak it some with the location of a few things but overall I think it is going to be pretty awesome. I am hoping I set up the booth the right way, that it attracts people in and looks inviting.

So I have a day of vending today and then it all starts. Hope to see you soon!


October 15-Present, 2012

Um, where did the time go? Oh yeah, I have been in the cave I call a workshop making oodles of soap, squeezing in a vacation, and then coming home to the super storm of the century!

So lets do a quick synopsis:
October 15-19 we made oodles of soap trying to get ready for the last few months of the year. Seriously, I mean 4 batches a day, plus lotion bars, lip balms, and anything else that popped up on the radar. The night of the 17 & 19th I helped a friend make boxes and wrap up my soaps for use at a wedding as favors. Jeez I hope they liked them, I haven't had time to ask!

The 20-27 C and I went on a vacation. We explored New Mexico, especially Santa Fe, Taos, the Enchanted Circle and that area of the state. It was wonderful, and beautiful, and I still needed a vacation to recuperate from my vacation, even though we took it easy and tried not to overdo things. Highlights included a visit to an Alpaca Farm, a stay in a haunted hotel (I was too tired for any ghost to wake me up) a visit to a pueblo, and a cool Tram trip.

While I was away Dad took care of the last week of the Lehigh Valley Farm Market, Ottertoberfest at the Zoo, and a show to benefit Habitat for Humanity at Moravian College.

I returned just in time to stock up for and experience Sandy. We were lucky and only lost power from Monday night through Wednesday night. Even then I took the opportunity to finish making all the sachets and I had printed labels so lots of things got labeled too.

Once the storm passed it was time to do the annual Apple Festival at Peddler's Village. Due to the storm, the show was just a shell of what it usually is in terms of sales, put there were dedicated buyers there so I know I made the right decision to go. It was crazy cold too, but the propane heater we didn't have to use during the storm came in handy so I was pretty comfortable except for the final break down.

This week is the last big push. Soap to be made every day, the last of the lip balms, a few bath soaks, and other miscellaneous things to take care of, like gift baskets and list of signage. But I hope to be done by the end of the week so that I can have a few days rest before set up next Tuesday. I have bought a new display, so I think the booth will be eye catching and interesting. Only time will tell and my anxiety is through the roof, I just which the show would start already and stop stressing me out!

Well that is the short story, hope to see you all soon and thanks for reading!


October 8-14, 2012

Whew, the week just flew by! I just found one of my "to do" lists the other day- things I wanted to accomplish in 2012.. guess what, about half are done, the other half- moved onto the 2013 list! I wonder if my dining room will ever get a new ceiling fan?

Monday and Tuesday we made LOTS of soap. I figured out a schedule of what absolutely needed to be made, and what I would like to have made to be sure I don't run out of anything in December. Then I overlapped these lists based on the fragrances and then scheduled in the fragrances from highest number needed to lowest. Whew! Plus, as the month goes on, we still sell, so this list can flux..things I didn't need a lot of in the beginning of the month, I may need more of after just a few orders. So I don't think of it as a schedule of making soap, just a road map to try and follow the best I can, fitting in special orders along the way.

Speaking of special orders, I cannot believe the overwhelming response to bacon soap! WOW!!! I think quite a few people will be surprised this winter with these gifts.

Wednesday I went to Fellowship Community for the last time this year and participated in their heath fair day. It was my best day there ever and I am so excited to see how many dedicated customers I have acquired over just a few short months.

Thursday I started the day at the Dentist. I had chipped a front tooth a few years ago and it finally needed to be fixed. Luckily it was pretty quick and painless. It even cost less than I expected as it wasn't as bad as they thought! I used the extra cash to treat the household to some goodies from Trader Joe's. Yes, my dentist is down by a Trader Joe's, I hate the thought of anyone else touching my teeth, so I just make the drive. After I returned I dropped off an order to The Knitter's Edge. JoAnne has put together the coolest knit kits-cotton yarn or aloo, a pattern for a washcloth, and a bar of my soap. They were so popular she had to make up more. I am sooooo proud and happy that she chose me to participate in this great idea! After the delivery dad and I went and set up the display for Oktoberfest over at ArtsQuest and had dinner at Looper's. Yum!

Friday We made more soap and I made some bath soaks too. Then I went over to the show. It was freezing cold and I was so happy I had my propane heater with me to take the edge off. Because of the weather sales were slow, but that wasn't unexpected.

Saturday was day 2 of Oktoberfest. It was a really good day for me and I had some great sales and lots of people telling me that they would see me in a few weeks at Chriskindlmarkt. The weather was beautiful and I really just had a fun day.

Sunday Dad went and did Oktoberfest. I was a little disappointed because I expected that the nice weather would bring out more people. But overall I did better than I expected to at the show and I am sure we will be back next year, probably for both weekends. While he was there I went to the Chestnut Hill Home and Garden show. It was super windy and my cheeks still are a little wind burned, but sales were much, much better than I expected them to be from a rain dated show. Overall the combination of the two shows lets me pay the bills a few more weeks, and that is always a blessing!

Oh and Sunday I was next to Geek Boy Press . I have seen him at a few other markets and have some buttons on my knitting bag, but I have been coveting a "are you my mummy" sweatshirt for some time now. I asked for it for Christmas, and Carlos got me one and when we got home, he didn't even make me wait till Christmas to wear it!!! AWESOME!!!

So I hope to see you all soon and thanks for reading!!!


October 1-7, 2012

It is hard to believe that in in about 6 weeks I will be loading into Chriskindlmarkt for the last show of the season. I feel like I have come so far this year but that I also have so much more to do and so much farther to go, I feel like I am packing a whole year's worth of doing into the next three months and that I just don't see how I am going to manage to get it all done!

So here are a few highlights of last week:

Monday and Wednesday we got soap made. Monday was tricky because I made 6 tiny batches, which takes as much work as the big ones really, all that switching of fragrances, and cleaning crock pots. It can get a little confusing trying to get it all done and trying to remember how many of each kind needs to be made. So that was the order for the B&B and for an order of  wedding shower favors. Wednesday was just a simple batch of Black Cherry Oatmeal because I had to leave to help a friend for a few days.

Tuesday dad dealt with the tree in the yard being pruned, so I just worked on lots of paperwork. I got the new shaving brushes photographed and on the web site. They could use spiffier pictures, but for right now i think they are fine.

Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday I helped B at The Ornamental Lady at the show up at Knoebel's Amusement Park. What a crazy place that is! Over 300 vendors on winding pathways and in pavilions. I totally got lost. I was wondering if it would be a show for me to set up at too, but the density of vendors and people was just overwhelming to me, it found it uncomfortable to walk around. I don't think this will be one I will be trying any time soon.

I have received at least two special orders that I hope to get up on the web site for a fast buy today and get them announced on the newsletter. There is a few more pending after that too:) The special orders are fun, but kinda stress me out a little this time of year because of time constraints. So I have to be on the ball about getting ingredients ordered and things made. I actually need to make a big list of everything today to keep it all straight before I forget something.

Oh, and I think I have a new wholesale account to announce soon. I met with them on Tuesday and they bought some things then and are supposed to have an order to me today or tomorrow. Once it comes through I can announce it and get it up on the web site and blog. But I am super excite because it is a great small business and it is in NJ, so it will really be on a great location for many of my customers who live around there!

Saturday we set up at A Very Merrie Halloween over at the 1803 house, right in my home town. It was a wonderful day with lots of activities for the kids, including a parade! Sales were better than last year, and I think this event will just get better and better each year!

Sunday was supposed to be the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts event, but it was canceled due to the impending rain and cold. It was rescheduled for it's rain date- October 14. Looking at the 10 day forecast, I am not sure next Sunday will be any better, but let us hope it will be!

That is all for now. I have to get going on the rest of my list to do. It is going to be a busy few weeks. Hope to see you soon!


September 10-30 Where did the time go?

I can't believe I haven't written an update since the 9th. The month has totally flown by in a whirlwind! I am glad I scheduled myself some time to breathe or I would still be holding my breath, the month was just amazing!

September 10 and 11 dad and I made soap, lots of it. Pretty much this is all we will be doing for the next two months- making as much soap as we can and stocking up for the big shows at the end of the year. The 11th we vended at Muhlenberg. It was so great to be back at our second home. The days are always so pleasant and everyone is always so kind and supportive. It is just a great place to be. Dad was at the farm market at Lehigh University on the 13th, and this event has just been rock solid this year. He has been getting great weather, and we have had a steady stream of dedicated customers. It is so far our best year here yet.

Friday the 14th through Monday the 24th I visited my mom. I love to visit my mom. We have so much fun together. This year we did all sorts of stuff, from visiting bird sanctuaries, to sculpture gardens, and historic homes. Only one day was really spent chilling out and only then because it rained. I came back ready to hit the ground running and work hard till the end of the year.

I came back and learned I need a filling. Bummer. I chipped my tooth a gazillion years ago and it is finally getting to the point that it needs to be filled before it gets bad. I hate the whole procedure of having something done to my teeth. I try and be proactive and get them cleaned every 6 months, and until just a few years ago I never had a filling. But I guess age and horrible flossing habits are catching up. So I scheduled that for a few weeks from now. Ugh!

Dad had a great day at the last Bath Farmer's Market for the season. It is always hard for him to say goodbye to everyone. But it was an awesome year and he can't wait to be back next year!

This past weekend was the New Hope Arts & Crafts Festival. It was the third location in the last three years for the event. I loved it! The set up and dismantle was super easy, I had my best show there so far, and the volunteers were both plentiful and helpful. It was a super event and I can't wait to be back next year! I know not everyone did great, but I really liked my location of the booth as well as the new location for the show. People could park nearby, or take a shuttle from the downtown. I thought the aisles were wide, it was easy to move around, plenty of space and a great flow of people all day long. it was great to be on the pavement when it rained, I didn't have to worry about being all muddy either.

In other news I have picked up making soaps for the Maid's Quarter's Bed & Breakfast, and yet another wedding shower to make favors for. YAY! I also have a meeting about wholesale tomorrow at a place in NJ, that will be a first for me, and I have new shaving brushes to get up on the web site. These are special because the handles are turned by a local wood turner and I am super excited to have them!

So keep your eye on the web site for some new additions, and hope to see you soon!


September 3-9 + Veg Fest:)

So I started out the week dislocating the first knuckle on my right pinkie. I was trying to get over one of the baby gates we use to keep the kitten out of harms way and rather than unlocking and moving it I decided to try and straddle it with things in both hands, and I fell. I smacked my hand on the way down, twisted my ankle and landed on my hip. I was lucky the pinkie got the worst of it. I actually thought it might be broken, but it still bent, but crunched a little, so I massaged it around some and it stopped crunching, so I guess it all went back into place. It's been a week and there is no bruise at all, it still bends, but it still hurts when I try to do any real work (like lifting heavy objects or pulling things). But I can knit and that is my sign of whether or not I need a doctor, if I can knit it is fine.

I ended the week with pulling out my back. I am still thinking it may actually be my sciatic. It is very low, one side, and kind of radiates into my hip (not the one I fell on) and back of thigh. Yesterday I could barely walk or sit, or transition between the two. Today I can walk, sitting is mildly uncomfortable depending on the position, and transitioning is OK, I can get up and down by myself. I spent yesterday on the sofa all propped up with a heating pad, Aleve, a shawl, and Netflix. I guess if I am going to be immobile for a while, it was as good as it could get.

In between the week was very busy. C had the week off from work so lots of "home" things got done. We started to Fall clean the house and the bathrooms and bedroom got a wall to wall cleaning. C did most of the work since I was pretty incapacitated on Monday due to my fall.

Dad and I did make soap Monday and Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday I worked on finishing up soap for a wedding I have to do, just a little bit left, hope to have them done today. Also finished up making and wrapping a few hundred air fresheners, fizzys, and lotion bars this week as well.

Saturday was veg Fest. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised about how well this show went. 

First I didn't like the fact there were so many soapmakers and other cosmetic types there, I counted 5 on the map, and we were each only one or two booths away from each other. If this was not a local show, I probably would not have shown up just based on that fact alone. I didn't like being out of the rest of the handcrafts. It makes it hard for people to understand that I make my stuff when I am next to a quack exercise machine and across from RCN. I think handcraft should stay together regardless of type. I also usually stay away from any show that designates and area for body/candles/etc because all the smells together are overwhelming and dilute sales for everyone. It never has been a formula that works for me because I tend not to have overwhelming scents.

But the rest of the show was pretty fantastic. Sales were good although I felt as though people thought this was a vegan event, and i had to explain my stuff was vegetarian, not vegan quite a bit. I know I need better signage for next year to explain this to people easier.

There was a wide variety of things represented including local artisans, businesses, and food. It really was a great way to come get a taste for what the area has to offer if you are into vegan, vegetarian, or just plain healthy alternatives.

And my most bravo moment was when they decided to shut the show down early due to the impending storm. Not enough events do this with enough lead time for people to actually have the chance to get out quickly and safely. We made it out safe and dry. I know some people didn't. This show is on concrete and very few tents I saw has sufficient weights to get through the winds that whipped through. Our neighbor's flew over before the storm even started and flipped into the street, luckily missing cars. We had already planned on leaving early and had been watching the radar, and we have well over 125 lbs of weights. So I sighed a big breath of relief when they called the show. So super kudos bravo to them!!

I hope to be back next year to VegFest. I really had a great time meeting new people and seeing some of my usual customers!

Well off I go. I have a day off from soap to let my back heal some more, but lots of paperwork to do instead!  Hope to see you soon!


August 27-September 2, 201

I think I need to keep a better account of what I have been doing. Each day just seems to go by so fast and I barely have half of what I want to accomplish done each day. It is nuts!

Some big things have been happening: I delivered to a local store, that soon will be suing my soaps as part of a holiday gift idea promotion. I still can't quite spill the beans, but once it all comes together I think many of you will be exited about this newly formed relationship!

I have been working on mini guest sized soaps for a local Bed & Breakfast. I think I have the size perfected. they just need to cure for another week or so and then will need final approval.

Coming soon: crazy cool shaving brushes. The handles are hand turned by another Emmaus artisan. I am super excited about this. I have to get photos up and some last details ironed out, but look for this by the end of the month!

We have been working crazy hard in the workshop this past week. Soap everyday, 5 kinds of air fresheners, two fizzys, and 6 lip balms are all finished. Many still need to be labeled and wrapped, but the list is finally getting shorter. I primarily have soaps for a wedding to finish, lip balms, and sachets to do (plus more soaps). Once I get caught up on having inventory we need to evaluate what I think we will need to get us through the November/December months and then start making all off that. I don't want a repeat of August and be running out of things during big shows.

A few new special orders are on the way, a new lip balm flavor and a new lotion bar scent, maybe two. I should have the final details worked out and info up on the web site for ordering by next week.

Dad has been doing great at the farm markets and we are looking to expand to one, maybe two more next year. If you have any suggestions, let me know. Better yet, suggest us to your favorite farm market, they like to hear from customers too!

Anyway, I have got to get going. Hope to see you this Saturday at VegFest in Bethlehem!


August 20-26, 2012

Just trying to catch up on everything: emails, bills, phone calls, orders, soap, fizzys, lotions, you name it. I started out the week with two full pages (college ruled), two columns each of things to do. Now I start this week with one column on only one page.

The week was a blur. We made soap almost every day and I I got one wedding out the door and another started, almost half way done. I acquired one new wholesale account and one that I am making some test soaps for because they want a specific sized bar.

Orders, lots of orders have been rolling through and for that I am eternally grateful. It is really nice to start the day with a few orders. Dad has been doing really well at the farm markets. We are even looking at adding one more next year.

I already had show applications for next year to do, crikey! I can't believe I have three things for next year already lined up. Amazing how early shows are getting their applications out now. I actually like it because I can really know what is going on in advance and it sure makes planning easier.

I have also been napping almost every day trying to catch up on some of the sleep I didn't get recently. And I have been cooking dinner every night because I can not explain how much I have been missing real food. No time for knitting at night yet and I hope in another week I will be able to get back to having a hobby.

Over the weekend time was spent catching up on the garden. It was like a wild jungle. We pulled out four raised beds, two just were full of weeds, but the others were spaghetti squash, artichokes, and kohlrabi. I was bummed I didn't get to the one artichoke in time to eat it, it went to flower. It was very pretty and I got a few nice pictures. Don't think I will try artichokes again though. Only got one in four plants and they took up a crazy amount of space. We did harvest and cook about 10 lbs of kohlrabi, and made 6 1/2 gallons of tomato sauce. Yes, gallons! And I have plants that are still loaded with tomatoes so there will be another batch in a few weeks. So now I at least think it is manageable. I also had to promise C that I wouldn't try to expand the garden again nest year until I can get a handle on what I have going. It is hard when the peak of the season is my hardest time of year for shows.

OK, it is time for me to try and get some more things done today. I think I have one more hard week of work before I can relax some. Off I go!


Tuesday's Tweets I Didn't Send

Well last weeks got a few chuckles, so maybe I will make this a weekly feature...

1) I must be getting old, I think the music is too loud from here

2) Thanks for applying the spray on bug spray/sunscreen (can of chemicals) right in front of my booth. The whole empty field ten feet to my left isn't empty enough for you?

3) Just because I live in Emmaus doesn't mean I know the former or current mayor personally.

4) Wow, someone at Folk Fest actually doesn't know what Patchouli is, or how to say it...Patch-Ow-Wee is not it.

5) Kittens should come with an off switch

6) So a journalist (maybe photog) comes into my booth and tells me he buys soap from someone else...in Oregon...and it looks just like this...really???

7) "Does it work?" especially regarding the Bug Off, like 500 times

8) Lots of innapropriate clothing choices. Weird is cool, vulgar is not.

9) How many different words for the female anatomy can the people outside my tent use in one sentence...up to 5 so far

10) Overheard: "Hope he finds a rich one, there isn't much future in there"

11) Yes you shave with the brush, and magical faries make the hairs on your face go away

12) Watching you bring your kid who is learning to walk on stilts  into a booth full of pottery...priceless!


Philly Folk Fest Day 3

Well I have had crazier days there, but in the end, I was happy with the sales, and ecstatic with the repeat sales, I am always amazed how much this festival really is a family.

The weather held out for us and the day went by pretty quickly. I was super excited to be able to barter for a T-shirt I really wanted from a vendor I haven't seen in quite a few years.

Speaking of fiber and clothing. There was way too much of it his year, at least 12 of the vendors had some kind of clothes.

I also have a problem with "fair trade" at any festival. First, I think it should be quarantined from handcrafts, not mixed in. (Folk Fest at least denotes the difference in the fest guide, most do not). I also think this should be used to augment a show. If a promoter can't find someone that makes dresses to come, then yes, invite fair trade dresses, but if you can get a handcrafter then that person should be afforded the luxury of not having the competition from someone who does not make their things and can sell them for a song and still make cash. The same goes for beaded and other jewelry, shoes, leather items, and any other "fair trade" item. When festivals begin to realize fair trade is not fair to the US Handcrafter then the whole system will be better.

Load out wasn't bad at all. First I was amazed, just the fact that for once it was cool and dry, it made a big difference. We also started taking down tent sides and ropes and signs earlier in the day when we could see better and taking them to the car. Once the time came we started with inventory and then displays and finally the tent. Just as we were leaving others were lining up to get into the field. but 60 minutes for us and we were gone. Home and in bed by midnight. Woot!

Well my busy time of the summer is over. I have a few weekends off and the just small one day events after that. I visit my mom next month so I am planning that trip with fun things for both of us to do. Next big show is the end of September. I am excited to get back to the smaller shows where I have the time and energy to devote to everyone who comes by.

Time to try and devour that crazy list of things to so I have in front of me. Gonna be a great few days easing back into real life! Thanks for being on the ride with me:)


Philly Folk Fest- Day 2

Hmmmm.. what an odd day. Usually my Fridays are the worst, and Saturdays is OK and Sunday is stellar. Wondering if it will be the same this year or not. I mean, today was OK, but not as OK as usual. But I had lots and lots of "be back tomorrows" so if even half of those show I think I will be golden.

And it got COLD. I was freezing by the time I left. The humidity was way up and as the temperature dropped I could actually see my breath for a few minutes.

Super glad that C drove yesterday. I actually caught some extra sleep both on the way there and on the way home. I actually feel a little more normal today. Can't believe it is break down all ready. If it is nice out I may start taking down sides wile it is still day light and pulling up ropes and stuff (leaving the stakes and weights on till the end). That way once it gets dark a lot of the hard stuff will be done. I will be really surprised if they let us drive onto the field for break down. I think we will be dragging everything through the grass and wet to get it in the car. At least the parking area doesn't seem too muddy (yet) so I hop ewe can get the loaded car out of the lot.

OK, time to pack inventory. I have a bit to do before I get going. See you soon!


Philly Folk Fest Day 1

So I was thinking that I was going to be alone all day and then something awesome happened. Rachel, who I only see every year at fest, emailed me and asked me if I would be there and if I would need help. It was a yes to both questions. C wasn't due in till early evening, and I hadn't finished set up with G. So I had a van full of inventory, a booth that was just the tent set up, and just a few hours in the am to get it all ready before the show started.

So I took her up on her offer. He arrived around 8 am and by 10 we were done. Everything out, labeled, signage, everything. I even had time for breakfast. Then she continued to take awesome care of me till the late afternoon. She can sell, and stock and remind me to drink water and eat too. So the day I thought was going to be like hell, ended up being pretty darn pleasant. It was a great way to start the fest.

Sales were good, I only missed my goal by one or two sales, but the rains came in and out so that is not surprising at all. I am actually surprised I did as well as I did. I love this show because I really see the same faces each year and get to have a "fest family". I have watched kids grow up and now they bring in their friends too. It is cool to see the boys, one ashamed to come in with mom, now bringing in their girlfriends to buy them a lip balm or two.

The drive home was brutal and I was so glad I had C behind me the whole way. The rain got hard a few times, and I was super tired. Had to opened the windows a few times for a blast of air to wake me up some. I was in bed by 1 am, and Mona thought 5 am was the prefect playtime. Yikes!

So it is time for me to take a shower, pack some inventory and food, and get out of here for another day of fun and excitement at the fest!


Have you seen this?

Have you seen this? It was misappropriated during Musikfest. (Stolen sounds like such a harsh word for something probably used to cart home one or more drunken acquaintances).

The important thing is that the Bethlehem Police know it is gone and are looking for it. So...

1) If you or someone you like has it, please contact me. I can arrange for it's rightful owner to pick it up, no questions asked.


2) If you know who has it and you don't like them, feel free to contact the Bethlehem Police Department, they will be happy to hear from you.

Tweets I Didn't Send

So earlier this year I started a twitter account. A few of my friends stressed that it might not be a great idea for me to have a place where I could not have a filter between my brain and my fingers. They were afraid that I might get a large following and then insult someone when they were less than 100 feet out of the booth.

So I have been censoring myself. Actually keeping it pretty boring, more for facebook updates, and newsletter updates, and show space locations, then what I want to use it for, a place where my inner snark can have a place to be heard.

So here are a few tweets I didn't send during Musikfest.

1) Bath fizzys do not make you eat another person's face. Those are bath salts and I don't make those either.

2) Please stop smoking in my booth, how can you smell anything through all that haze?

3) Why does the sale that takes the most energy out of me have to be to someone I know?

4) Overheard: when we role play I am the UPS man...

5) Really asking me to just sell you lye? You either make soap or meth and I don't want to help you do either.

6) The Bath farmer's Market is not a market of all bath products

7) You thought the bath mitts were socks? For people with one giant misplaced toe I guess.

8) So our guard hippes didn't work, people (not me) had things stolen last night.

9) Rumor has it we have no security down here, so glad to hear that.

10) You use Hungarian Lavender? Have anything that smells good? Hope that was the beer talking, even though it is just 1 pm.

11) I miss hot food.

12) I swear the bell guy's voice has changed... maybe he has minions...

So what is your opinion... should I live tweet or let the filter of time just give me some rocking blog posts every few weeks?


Musikfest Day 10 + Tear Down and Beyond

Day 10 was awesome, almost as good as Day 9 and it probably could have been better if I hadn't run out of soaps like the Sea Salt, Oatmeal, and the samplers too. But hey, what is a girl to do? I try and project what I am going to need for the show and sometimes things ho haywire. It has been a long time since I ran out of something at a show. I have sold out, with lots back at the shop to bring the next day, but my boxes were empty, and the soap on the racks not ready for a week or more. Woah!!!

That night we packed everything away and then came back the next morning to tear down. It was an easy load out, everything was dry and fit in the van nicely. A few things needed to come out as soon as I got home so they didn't get too hot but the rest just gets to stay until Folk Fest set up tomorrow :)

I am sick, my throat is killing me. I think that it is just allergies, because my nose is running too, but I am pretty miserable and I hope the next few days kicks it.

I have lost some paperwork I needed, a few show apps and a parking pass. I hate being the one to call up and have to get new ones. I always feel like a jerk. I swear I remember taking them out of the car to bring inside. But they are not in the car, and they are not inside. And then that just spins me into another, "I am so tired I can only cry" mode and I get angry at everything and then mad at myself for being angry. It is an awful Catch 22. I even got mad at C for trying to make me feel better. Seriously. I should be locked in a room for a few days till I decompress. 

OK. This one is going to be short since "blog" was on my list of things to do along with a few dozen other things, so I can't spend my whole day here, and I am sure you don't want to hear all about it. I know in my heart and head that my problems are trivial and I am blessed. But sometimes when you are in it you can't see it from any other perspective.

All I can say is THANK YOU!!! For supporting me, for buying, for caring, for listening, for letting me into your world and for being interested in mine just for a bit. Musikfest 2012 was my best year ever and I really hope to have another ten years there!



Musikfest Day 7 & 8 & 9

Don't mind me.. I am on auto pilot. What energy isn't used at the 'fest is used to try and keep myself from just being mad at the world.Today that isn't working.

I am tired. I crave a hot sit down meal with a real napkin. I crave a shower that I can sit in without falling asleep. I would like not to have to put on the same dirty shoes each morning (but I only want to ruin one pair in the mud each year). I wish for the opportunity for an afternoon nap.The migraine that started on Day 9 is going strong day 10. This may suck a little today.

Sales on Thursday were OK, nothing crazy but I was still happy. Friday was slower than I expected it to be, almost as slow as the first Friday. But Saturday completely rocked and was the best day of the festival so far. I have surpassed 2011 sales (not too hard given the rain and the flood, but still a milestone to be excited about) and I am on my way to equally or surpassing 2010 (my best year ever). All I need is the weather to hold out a bit and for people to come on down and visit.

I am still amazed how many people each day mention the newspaper article. It is kinda odd, but exciting, and humbling, and amazing all at the same time.

For the first time in many years I have completely sold out of a soap- Himalayan Sea Salt. It is all gone and the ones in the rack may not be ready for next week.  I am getting close on a few others. This means that the entire batch of 200 was sold through within the last few weeks. Just amazing!

OK, I gotta run. I slept late and desperately need a shower and to pack inventory for the last day. Hope to see you soon!


Musikfest Day 6

Almost done and the best days should be ahead of me. The publicity from the paper was overwhelming. I got lots of new people who came out just to try a bar or two, and my dedicated customers came by all day just to tell me they saw me and were glad to say "I've been buying from her for years!". I really enjoyed the fact that the afternoon was slower and I had the chance to get into some deep conversations about what I do and why I do it. Sometimes we talked ingredients (local versus organic advantages), sometimes process (why I hand mill) and sometimes just about life in general being a craftsperson.

There is another blurb about me in the Express Times today. I think I have just about used up my 15 minutes of fame. I think the hubbub will die down a little after the 'fest is over. I was so excited to see today that yesterday and the day before were my two highest web page views since I updated my web site in January. Over 900 people checked me out just because of the article in the paper. I am overjoyed.

As for yesterday, it started out very slow, but as usual the night is the time to sell. It picked up a little later than it has been, about 7:30 but I had a few really good hours, so the day ended up much better than I had thought it would earlier in the evening.

But that is about it. Beckah and Gabe both came to help me out for a while. It was so nice to have the company. I needed to be invigorated with conversation and hilarity. They kept me going while I was at my most tired. Speaking of tired, I slept late today, so I have to get going or I wont get my inventory and food packed up in time to leave. Gotta run, hope to see you soon!


Musikfest Day 5

So my Monday was better than Friday and now my Tuesday was better than my Sunday? I totally forgot how awesome Musikfest can be when the weather participates. There were so many people out and about and having fun too, not just getting from point A to B in the driest and least muddy way possible (which never includes my part of Handwerkzplatz).

The day started off awesomely. I had gotten there early so I could drive in and drop off inventory and suddenly Dan Sheehan his photographer Emily Robson come wandering through. An innocent conversation turns into a full article in The Morning Call, complete with some awesome pictures!  What a great way to start a morning. It also just reinforces that the "early bird gets the worm", I was just in the right place at the right time, with a smile on my face!

The first five days are done, I am looking at five more but I am ready for them. Just two more days till the weekend. I so hope that the weather predictions don't hold true, we could sure use a warm, dry weekend. I think as long as the storms are short everything will be OK, it is those all day rains that just make it miserable.

Gabe came to help me last night and that is always awesome. He ran his first unassisted credit card while I was at the ladies room and  I am so proud of him! I totally know that he can do it all by him self. He just needs the confidence boost of doing it more often. The math is the hardest part, not that he can't do it, just that he sometimes get s a little flustered. I did too when I started, and still do when I get busy, time and practice is the only way to get used to it.

So I am now pretty energized and excited to see what today brings. It is supposed to be warmer again today, but still beautiful out tonight. Should be a great day! Hope to see you soon!


Musikfest Day 4

Wow, what a surprisingly awesome Monday it was! The weather was absolutely beautiful and it was great to see everyone out and about enjoying it.

Between being pretty tired, and the day just being a steady stream of people, it went by so quickly and I don't have much to report.

I am settling into the daily routine of  packing up food, stopping on the way in for a morning coffee, and just getting there, doing my job, loving whoever comes in the booth, and letting everything else just slide down my back. I still have a few things that I am highly disappointed over, but you know what, you can't change them and as long as they don't stop people from enjoying me and my products, right now I am too tired to care much anymore.

At the end of today I am halfway there, and the second half is usually the best one for me, so I am looking down a road that I think will only get better! I already have has a few wonderful prospects and I hope that I get a few new shows, an new farm market, and maybe a new store account out of all this.

I have to take some new pictures of the kitten, she is growing up so fast. Her eyes have started to change color already, and only having a few hours a day with her is pretty rough. I wish I could being her to the show but 1) I follow the no pets rule and 2) others don't and I don't trust their dogs.

Ok, it is time for me to get going and pack up inventory and stuff. Got a lot to do this morning and want to find time to languish in a warm shower.

Hope you come out to Musikfest!


Musikfest Day 3

Well there was a little burst of liquid sunshine right as the event opened, but it blew through really fast and not too furiously. The ducks in the creek came up behind my tent to take shelter from the storm. I got to take a few cool pictures, but forgot to bring my camera home so I could upload them! So I guess I will share those tomorrow.

The afternoon's sales for me were terrific. I  had a lot of fun talking with everyone. It was my favorite pace of show, busy enough that I don't get a chance to stop, but slow enough that I can really stop and have conversations with everyone and catch up with people I only see once a year.

I also have to take the time and thank everyone who comes out each year to support me. I cannot thank you enough. I love the fact that not only do you come back, but you very often tell me about it, and tell other's in the booth about how much you like my products. It really helps make a new sale when someone who has "been buying for years" chimes in about how you get soap from me every year. I love how the energy in the booth is so positive and uplifiting. If you all didn't share your energy with me I wouldn't have the energy to particpate in a show this long or hot. I do all of this all because of you!

Then the rain came again. It was a little longer this time. I was very disappointed in seeing how many people left for the day at this time. It is very hard to be in the back of the show and have so many people right at the main entrance are closed. It does not make the area look enticing at all. Once we reopened after the rains passed I had another hour or so of good sales and then the night just wound down.

I have to vent a little. What is the deal with vendors who feel they need to light incense in their booths when they don't sell incense?? It makes me so sick, plus it ruins my fragrances. I don't put up jewelry, or clothes, or paintings in my booth, why do they not realize what you are doing is impacting me?? Honestly all I think when I smell it is you are smoking pot and trying to cover it up like a college kid(any maybe you are...). I think shows should have a no incense rule just like no pets and no alchohol. (not like either are enforced even if the rule exists). OK, I am done. I needed to get that off my chest. Thanks for listening. 

OK, it is getting late. need to stop at the bank for change and pack my lunch before I head over to the show! Love you all and see you soon!


Musikfest Day 2

Lets start with the good...AWESOME day of sales, quite possibly one of my best first Saturday's ever. It was pretty hot out and the day started slow for me, but it really picked up right around 7 pm and was busy through till about 10. I had a flurry of shaving mugs sell, four actually, I think that may be a one day record. Not sure what caused that stir, but it was really cool. Overall it was just a great day meeting new people and seeing others that come and stop by every year.

Now the bad...

Seriously, why is Handwerksplatz looking like an Occupy Bethlehem Camp. There are a few tents with so many tarps and crap strung up that you would swear they were camping rather than selling.

Speaking of camping. I think there is at least one person sleeping there at night, possibly more. First, I think this is in the rules that you can't, but the morning bath in the Monacacy this morning was pretty disgusting even if they are not sleeping there, I don't care if the show isn't open yet.

And what makes some vendors think that they are immune to the Bethlehem open container policies? Glass bottles in cozies are everywhere. Buy a darn mug and put your preferred beverage in an authorized container and be done with it. I don't need to worry about your broken glass getting into my feet (or car tires when I load out).

Hopefully in the next few days once things calm down these things will either quit bugging me because I will just get past caring, or someone will notice and get it cleaned up. Perception is everything and it is important for me to take part in events that have a good, clean, professional look. I know this is a festival (not an art show), but it is still in the heart of historic Bethlehem and should reflect that fact and represent the people and the values of the area. 

Off to pack inventory, and take a long hot shower, and find some coffee. Hope to see you later today!


Musikfest Day 1

Wow, did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or what? I was crank-y. All I wanted was to come into the show, set up, and avoid drama. I could, but it took effort to do so. I appreciate that ll my friends worry about me because there is another soapmaker at the event. I am glad they worry about me because that person is in a "better spot" (I am not so sure of that). But to spend the first hour of so with everyone coming up and wanting to chat about it..not so fun.

Oh, and just a little craft show etiquette: if you are not there to set up, and decide to wander through anyway, do not get offended when you are perceived as a threat or completely brushed off. When we are setting up and loading out, we are at our most vulnerable. The vans we drive are all open so we can unload, our inventory is laid out everywhere, and our personal belongings like purses and electronics are not in the safest locations yet. This is a stressful time for us. When you wander through trying to negotiate the stuff, we all honestly think you may be trying to steal something. Most loss at a show comes during load in and load out, not during the show itself. Please, wait to come through when the show is officially open. You will enjoy our customer service much more, and we will be ready to serve you to our utmost ability. I know it is fun to feel like you are "back stage" but we just worry about your intentions and your safety.

OK, so back to the show...Things started off slow. By 7:30 pm I had one sale and I was starting to get worried that the night might be a flop. But happily I was wrong. Just as I mentioned to K and C that I really was worried, the love started pouring in. Thank you all for that. Just like everyone else, I go through times wondering if I am doing the right thing, if I am on the right path, and your kind words reassure me that I am.It means the world to me!

Between 8 and 10 we rocked it out and did a good days work in just a few hours. Then it was time to inventory, rearrange a few things, and get ready to close up. At 11 we were out of there and on our way home. An hour or so of paperwork later I got to climb into bed.

A broken night's sleep has left me a little tired, but I can manage and a good night's sleep tonight will come for sure just due to exhaustion. So it is time for me to go pack some inventory and some food, and head out in just a few scant hours. See you soon!


Musikfest day 0- Load In & Set Up

Well getting there at 8 am makes load in so much easier! Katrina and I arrived first thing this morning and the tent was set up and we were home again by 10 am. Then it was a quick stop at the house, reloading with inventory, and back to the show to load in that stuff. Again, we were home again by about noon.

I am so proud that we made it in and out before it got too crowded and tight with crafters, we beat the heat, and even made up a list of the things to do and to bring tomorrow.

I am super excited that they got rid of their "one parking pass for every day" system and just went to one pass that has the dates you will be attending written on it. I was so tired of forgetting to bring the next days color or to switch it in the car even if I had it with me. This should stop my inevitable, once a Musikfest $30 parking ticket. Yay!

So all the inventory is there, displays are ready and set up. Tomorrow I will get there early and get everything set out. Super excited Musikfest is here! 


Week of July 23-30 + Fleetwood Blues Festival

It was a pretty tough week. I relearned a few things that I know but has let slip on by and they all came to bite me at the same time.

I learned to stay with my strengths. I had a special order that was out of my usual repertoire, but since this customer has been with me for a long time I decided to give it a try. Many hours later, a dozen or so failed attempts, I just couldn't get the look they desired. I think I knew that when I said I would try it, but I forged on anyway. I disappointed them, I frustrated myself, and I used up valuable time for both of us. It really bummed me out.

Always get estimates in writing. I had an item special made by a vendor I hadn't used before, but they came highly recommended. We spoke on the phone and by email, and I had a general idea of the cost, but when the finished product came, and then the invoice, I was disappointed in the overall cost. It was about double what I had understood it would be. Now they claim I changed things and that was the cost difference. I say I pointed out obvious mistakes and suggested some improvements to an inferior product.

Always get a consignment agreement in writing. I played fast and loose last year and consigned my products in a store that was being opened by someone I knew from events I do. Now I am owed money and have nothing serious in writing. Now the amount is so low that even having something in writing wouldn't get me my money, it would cost too much to go to court, but it could have been thousands instead of hundreds, so this was my wake up call to play by my own rules.

Take some time for fun. I had been at my wits end with all of this drama and getting ready for shows, adding in a new kitten making work difficult, and just overall being tired. But a dinner with a friend and a day out with C and Dad rejuvenated me. I got more done in the days following my fun time than I would have if I had stayed home to work that day.

Sunday Dad did the Fleetwood Blues Festival. This let me get a bunch of stuff done and seriously reduced my stress quotient. The show was OK but not fantastic. Dad thought that having the crafters bunched together would have been better than having them spread amongst other types of vendors. He also had some early issues with his booth placement, it seemed that one person told him where to go, and another didn't agree with it. And of course anytime you are pretty close to music all day it can get tiring and luckily dad had earplugs because a few bands were just too loud for him. I think with a few tweaks this show can transcend from a good music festival to a great overall festival. The attendance was high and the people dedicated, even waiting out a storm, so that is not a worry. Look for this one to get better every year becuase they are definitely on the right track.

Well Musikfest loads in Thursday and the next few weeks will be crazy busy, hope to see you all out and about town!


WXPN Festival and Week of July 16-22

On Monday things began to return to a certain normalcy around here. Monday was the usual day of making soaps and doing paperwork. That evening I went to my weekly knit night and totally had a blast even though I was exhausted. I dropped off some goodies to the ladies that produce the Sticks and Stones video blog so they could offer them up as a give away.

Tuesday and Wednesday was more of the same. I also got everything ready to go to the WXPN festival- I packed the inventory, the food, the clothes, and the electronics needed for the trip.

Thursday I ran a few errands and then went knitting at a friends house for a few hours. Once 1 pm came it was time to take off for Camden. It took about an hour and a half to get there. I have to admit, I hate the drive, it is not fun at all. Once I made it to the hotel it was time for a snack, a run in the gym, and a hot shower. Then I waited for C to arrive with our new family member- Mona. She is only 6 weeks old and flew in with C from his mother's house in Puerto Rico, where she was found two weeks before abandoned in the yard.

Friday we went to breakfast and then to the show to set up. It is a very easy set up except for the fact that I have a bench in my booth that takes up the back two feet. Oh, and we are at a marina, that gets windy, so we need 200 lbs of weights and we also tie to the bench with rope to keep everything in place. The show starts that evening and although it only misted a little, the reports of impending rain seemed to keep people from buying anything they worried about getting wet, so the night was super slow.

Saturday the show ran as usual, and the stage that I am near has music on and off all day. Most of it is pretty good and I enjoy it, but there was a few times that I was praying for the set to be over soon, as I thought my ears may bleed. And I got tired of yelling over the music and asking customers to speak up because my ears had begun to ring and hurt. As you can tell this is not my favorite booth location.

Sunday the show ended at 7 and we were out of there relatively quickly. Sales were down, I am not sure why, maybe because of s few changes at the venue, maybe the economy, maybe just people there don't like my product. I am not sure. But it was back to the hotel for one more night.

Monday C left to fly back out for work and I drove home with Mona. Same dive, more traffic, more headache. Once I got home Mona started to immediately bond with Ted, our 1 yr old male, and was ignored by Fuchsia our 15 yr old female, but at least she wasn't hissed at! Everyone still only has supervised visits with the baby girl, but all seems to be setting on quite smoothly so far!

So this weekend is the Fleetwood Blues Festival, I hope to see you there!


Week of July 9-15

Well it has been an eventful week. Monday was primarily used to catch up on things. We got the van empties, the displays cleaned and put away, the inventory put away, my list of things to make updated, all the bills paid, and the emails answered.

We also learned Monday that there had been a death in the family, that meant we had to go up to New York State for the services. C changed his travel plans for work, I canceled the weeks farm markets, and we all doubled up on trying to get everything done so we could leave for a few days.

Tuesday and Wednesday we made soap and everything else was just a blur. I can't for the life of me think of what got accomplished, but I know it was two long days and I went to bed very tired each night. I know I got the garden back under control, and supplies ordered, and updated the web site with the new air fresheners.

Thursday and Friday we were gone and were exhausted by the time we returned. The one cool thing was my step-brother was in town on a totally unrelated trip, so we got to see him and the family for a few hours. We don't get to see each other too often so it was happy that things happened the way they did, when they did. Saturday I caught up on a few outstanding orders, but mostly we all tried to rest and relax some.

Sunday C left for a week away at work again, and dad and I hit the workshop. We made soap and I cleaned up and arranged some. It was really only a half day, and the rest of the day was spent cooking and knitting  and napping, the way a Sunday should be spent in my opinion.

So here we are back to Monday. Today I hope to finish up getting photos on the web site, I want to finish the clearance items and the specialty soaps. That will get it all done for now. I also will finally be making the samples for a wedding I have soap to make for. It will take me a day or two to get them a dozen or so different looks to choose from. Also need to make bath soaks this week, and get some lip balms shrink wrapped. It is the WXPN Festival and I leave on Thursday to do that, so it will be another three long and busy days!


Kutztown Day 8 & 9

So I planned on blogging each of these days individually but life got in the way. Just at the end of Day 8 a storm rolled through. I was very lucky, my neighbor Paul rolled his van in front of the doorway and blocked about 90% of the rain and wind. It would have been pretty ugly if he hadn't of thought of that. That is one one problem with my building, there is no way to close off an entrance. Everyone came together to help me get my tarps on and secure them with clamps and then I moved as much as I could to the dry side of the booth and hung on trying to keep everything covered as the storm blew through.

Once everything cleared I just left everything as it was and headed home. Guess what? No power. (hence no blog) and the next morning? Still no power.

So I headed out early back to the show to clean up the mess from the day before. It really wasn't that bad at all. I even had time for breakfast. Around 5 pm I received a text that the power was back, just about 24 hours without it.

I finished up the Festival on a really strong note. My sales were up from the year before by a hair's breath. Load out was super easy too. This morning we emptied the vans and I put away inventory and started washing all the table covers and displays. I am also trying to catch up on housework and the garden, both of which have been neglected. It is going to take me a few days to dig out from all this, but I am just attacking one thing at a time and writing down anything that crosses my mind and needs to be done later.

Sadly the money is already spent, checks went out this morning to pay for show fees later in the year, and supplies bought on credit earlier in the year. It is gone before I can be tempted to spend it on something frivolous. My next big show is in two weeks, the WXPN festival and in between we have over a dozen kinds of soap that we need to make to keep up inventory. I think it is going to be a very busy summer. :)


Kutztown Festival Day 7

Well for me it was another day of steady sales. I never had the chance to get bored which I love. I hate it when shows slow down, I get that lull and it is hard to get out of. At least when things are steady I can keep up my energy and really not give in to the tired.

Today is supposed to be a scorcher. But seriously, come out to the festival anyway. There is a good breeze that blows through most of the buildings, lots of shade, the air conditioned quilt barn to take a break in, and if something goes wrong, they have an excellent EMT staff. I know this because a friend of mine who has been at the festival all week got to visit them yesterday for a bit when she overheated. Even better they checked on her all day. It was the best care I have ever seen a festival give a participant. This is a huge KUDOS!!

One thing I gave up on yesterday was wearing "proper shoes". I have had on leather (more appropriate to my costume) footwear, but on the seventh day they rested. I wore my Vibrams. I am addicted to those shoes. The way they splay my toes a little just keeps my feet from cramping up. My heals still hurt a little from taking the brunt of my weight all day because of the angle I stand at, but my feet feel great. I think today I may be skipping the hat and apron too, just to keep cooler.

It's funny. During the day I think to myself- "I have to blog that" but then when I get up the next day, the previous day is just a blur. Just a few days ago is a total blur. This heat has been relentless, usually it is a few days and then the cool front comes through or a big storm, and things are good again before it gets hot again, but this week it just has been day after day after day.

Anyway, enough with the heat. It is my preoccupation today. It is time to get up and pack inventory, mail out a few orders and clean up a little so C can come home and actually get into the spare room. See ya soon!!


Kutztown Festival Day 6

Oddly enough the news this morning said that the third heat wave will started in the Lehigh Valley yesterday. I think both participants and guest to the festival may disagree, we think it started last Saturday. But I have to admit I have had an awesome spot. The breeze comes in (sometimes enough to blow over displays) and regardless of the temperature, as long as the air moves, it is pretty comfortable for me.

My feet are finally starting to hurt. I wanted to really try and stand the whole show, I haven't been in my chair once. Standing is supposed to enhance sales so I keep setting my goal to stand all day. I made it through the five days at Mayfair, but that was on grass so I had more padding under my feet. I have made it the six days so far, but I don't now if I will be able to make it today, I may have to sit during the slow times.

I also am bummed, I was hoping that the show would help me take off some weight, the hot days, the low amounts of food, and the exercise of standing have only combined to pack on about two pounds. I think it is stopping for dinner each night. I eat a huge, rich meal after not eating much all day because of the heat, and then go to bed just two hours later. I try not to eat huge, but once I get into the airconditioning my stomach grumbles and I just gotta eat. So next week it looks like it is back to my food diary, and the bike or running every day. Probably be the bike for a few weeks wile teh heat passes and my feet stop hurting.

So the show went well yesterday, certainly better than the same day last year. Lat year today, the Friday was my worst day, I wonder how that will translate to this year. It is funny how everyone is so preoccupied with comparing year to year, but where the holiday falls, the weather, and economy, I think it is almost impossible to compare year to year on a daily basis, you have to just look at the whole thing when it is over.

OK got to go, I have a bunch of orders to fill. (that is always cool to say!), and then some inventory to pack. I hope to have a few minutes to put my feet on my foot massager. Ah, speaking of massage, I have one scheduled for Wednesday after that show, I can't wait!


Kutztown Folk Festival Day 5

Happy Fourth of July! All I can say is: best sales day at Kutztown, ever! I nearly doubled my sales from last year's July 4th. Woot! Woot!

It was a really bust but awesome day, it started strong, I seriously made a sale before I was in my booth. Another craft-person bought a lip balm and kindly left me a note and the correct change. I took that as a sign and I was right. The day was just steady and busy the whole time. I barely had the chance to make it out of my spot to use the ladies room!

It has been hot and the heat index says hotter. It isn't too bad, I really am getting used to it. The only place that is uncomfortable is right around my belly, there is like 5 layers of clothes all covering the same place. I have been standing barefoot to help keep cool, and it is helping. My only drawback s the angle of the booth keeps lots of pressure on my heals so my feet are starting to get sore and tingly. So far if I out them up at night they are better by morning and I hope that stays that way. Luckily I usually wear barefoot shoes (Vibram's) anyway so my legs are really use to doing this, so my legs feel fine, it is just my feet. I think it is the concrete, I would be great if I was on grass.

Storms overnight woke me up. Of course I was worried about my stand. I think I will be fine, I took up everything on the floor and covered it all up. The way the storms were headed down my side of the building wouldn't have been the direct hit. I just reminded myself it wasn't like I could drive out there in the middle of teh night, so go back to sleep and triage in the morning. So wish me luck!

Well time to go pack some inventory, I have quite a bit to do! Hope to see you at the festival!


Kutztown Festival Day 4

We really had a good day and are right on track to sell as much as last year.

Yesterday some of us discussed about how the weather is impacting us, not just the heat here, but the storms to our south that have wiped out electricity. There is almost 2 million people in our typical geographic range for show attendees that have lost their power and are cleaning up after storm damage. This means tree removal, property damage, and a refrigerator full of spoiled food to clean up after and replace. I remember the carnage of the few days without power after the October snow storm and my heart goes out to everyone suffering without power in this heat, and I understand how that kind of financial impact can totally keep you from being able to come to an event such as ours. I try and keep this in perspective as I complain about being hot in costume, they are baking in regular clothes and worrying about how they will pay for all this damage to be fixed.

But on that note, I had a really good day, it did of course slow down in the afternoon as usual, and poor Gabe got a little silly tired, and bored too. But the morning started out quite fine and through the late afternoon there was a steady stream of people. Never overwhelmed, but busy enough to keep your mind off the time and heat.

For dinner we went to the Zion's all you can eat. We were the last ones seated and to leave, but we finally got there. Zion Church as been doing this for 63 years and this is their last one. It is an end to an era and a testament to how the world is changing. Rising food prices, a congregation who just doesn't volunteer for this, and less people coming and eating there have all combined and they can no longer sustain the endeavor. I have met a few ladies from the church and have come to regard them as friends. I know they are heartbroken to see this end, and so am I. I made it a point to stop and eat at least once this show, just to show some support, but to also to be able to say that I took part in such an institution before it moves on. I can always say that I ate there it's last year.

So Happy July 4th! Gotta go pack some inventory, I think it is going to be a busy day! Hope to see you soon!


Kutztown Festival Day 3

So we had a great breeze today. So much so I had to worry about things blowing over. My booth is kinda inside. I am at a doorway, but wow, does that wind blow through. I hope that the severe storms being called for on Wednesday down't become that musch of an issue.

I had a good day. Gabe came to help me and did a really, really good job. I even got to take a few minutes out of the booth when things quieted down. There was a lot more people then I expected there to be on a Monday and that is a great thing.

I have to say that I love this show. It is so great to see promoters that actually walk around themselves and look at the place, and have people they trust walk around and do it for them. It is nice to see that they care about the event and don't just let it run wild after opening. All shows have their quirks and places it can be a little better, but honestly this one is pretty close to perfect for me. I have a few wishes, but really they are quite minor and I only think opf them when things are quiet and I have some time, but usually I am too busy to care.

So after three days I am having strong sales, not as good as last year but still very good. I am getting tired, my feet are starting to hurt a little, and I wish I could wear a pair of shorts without 4 yards of fabric skirt over them. I wish I had some time to get into my garden, but alas, that won't be happening for a few more days.

OK, off to mail orders and stock inventory. See you at Kutztown!!!


Kutztwon Festival Day 2

I will admit, it was hot. Kinda unbearable at times. I was great as long as I was standing still but then when moved around things got hot. I usually wear a pair of shorts under my skirt and a tank top so I can change into something lighter in order to stop and have dinner. I think I am going to skip that layer today and just bring a t-shirt to change into just before I leave.

I think I did very well in sales. I am down a little from last year but no so much that I can't get it back. I have also made some great connections, a few possible wholesale accounts and have seen some good customers come by to cheer me on.

There isn't too much to report because the days are so nice. It is just a good steady stream of people, I never get too busy but I never get too bored. I have a great spot, lots of shade, a cross breeze, and shelter from any storms. My neighbors are awesome people and are kind and generous and not overly chatty of imposing. I could work like this for weeks and not have any troubles.

Last year Day 3 was the 4th of July, this year we have to wait till Wednesday. So I totally don't expect today's sales to be anything like last year, but I hope that they are strong and I hope we get a little reprieve from the heat.

But come on out and say hello, really there is lots of cold things to eat and drink (the frozen chocolate covered strawberries look mighty fine), misting stations, and lots of shade. It should be less crowded today so if you can't beat the heat at least beat the crowds!


Kutztown Folk Festival- Day 1

Wonderfully the day wasn't as hot as I expected it to be. I have survived hotter. I had a nice breeze that comes in the door by my booth location and I had a fan set up by my feet as well. I also didn't wear shoes most of the day so that helps me stay cool too. The $20 I spent on new rugs to stand on all day are so far the best money I have spent. Getting to stand barefoot not only keep me cool but keeps my feet from getting sore.

I think I had a strong day of sales. Many other people around me were not that happy. I figure it is too early to be worried or upset, there is still 8 days to go. You never know what the week is going to bring. I also do not keep records of shows on a per day basis, it stresses me out too much to compare like that, I pay attention to the number at the end of the show and that is it.

I loved the day. It brought in so many repeat customers and many, many new ones. I had one customer explain to me that it was her first time there and she was looking for "handmade soap" that was old fashioned handmade soap and looked handmade. Until finally finding me (mine was the last building she went into) she was disappointed that she hadn't found what she was looking for. She was seriously so excited that an hour or so later we ended up in the ladies room at the same time and she stopped me again to tell me how excited she was to find me. That made my day!

I never felt overwhelmed with customers but I never really felt like I wasn't busy either. I had to sneak in some food and water and never had enough time to properly sit and eat any of it. It was just a steady day with steady sales, nothing really large but every one a blessing.

So yes it was hot, yes maybe the crowds have been bigger in the past, and yes, maybe I made more last year on Saturday (who knows? I don't), but I had a wonderful day at a wonderful show and I am going to bed tired but happy.

Hope to see you all there this week!