Week of March 19-25, 2012

So it has been a busy week here at home and in the workshop. Tuesday we vended at Muhlenberg College and as usual it was both fun and profitable. It has been just about one yearn now since we started and we really are seeing the same faces each month (as well as some new ones) and making lots of friends. It has been great as I have gotten to make a few special orders for students as well. It is a very invigorating day because I can just watch and see what is trendy and get inspired by my day.

Our new cat has suffered a name change again. it is still Theodore Harold but instead of the Houdini it is now Edward... Why.. well, first, he has stopped hiding and escaping from everything and now he is officially T.H.E. Cat. Which dad says was the name of a show about a retired cat burglar in the late 60's. I am going to have to IMDB that one sometime and see if I can Netflix it.

We made soap every day and are only a few weeks away from being up to our desired starting inventory. I re-designed lip balm and soap bag labels, and the lotion bars are next on my list. We got fizzys made as well. So we are in good shape. I am confident that we will start the busy season in good shape.

I am also scheduling a soap making demo and hands on fizzy making day for a local home-school group. I have done this for Girl Scouts, a Montessori School, and for other customers in the past, so let me know if you have a group that would be interested in a demo as well.

I have been keeping on my exercise and diet pretty well. Last week was a no loss/no gain week, but I am now on Week 3 of my 5K training program and am running 15 of 33 minutes (in intervals) so I am feeling good.

I am setting up the photo booth for my products and I should be getting some pretty good photos taken and posted in the next few weeks. It has taken me a bit to learn the new camera and figure out what look I like, but it is all coming together and soon we should be able to see the rewards.

Oh and in case you haven't noticed, I changed the blog.. kinda by accident. I was exploring templates and forgot to back up my old one.. so poof.. it was gone. I still have some things to tweak on this one but it is much easier to manage and I think easier to read as well. So for now this is it until I can hire a blog designer...or do it myself...

That's it! See you next week! I will be able to update and tell you all about our first day vending at Kutztown U. We are very excited about it!!!


Just catching up

Well there is a little bit of catching up to do and earlier today I was reading this blog back from 2005 and I appreciate the ability to go back and remember such things, like looking for a new house, and what shows I did and things going on. I never thought in 2005 that I would still be blogging pretty regularly. I never kept a diary and I never was good at it, but I guess in years to come this is going to be the record of what was going on in my brain and exactly how far I have come.

So since I last posted Dad adopted a cat. He went a week trying on many names but it ended up being Teddy, because when he looks at you with his puffy little face he looks like a teddy bear. But around here cat names never just stop at that. So his full name is Theodore Harold Houdini. His first day in the house he figured out how to get into the ceiling of my workshop, and he hasn't stopped escaping out of places, or disappearing into small spaces ever since. Luckily he likes his name (and attention) so he typically comes out when you call him, but for the first week there was at least one time a day where the whole house stopped and searched for the cat.

 I have been on a diet and exercise plan and have lost about 7 lbs so far. I am happy to be able to fit into my jeans without looking like I am going to blow a gasket. I started running again, this time the 5K101.com program. It is a little more aggressive and since I was doing so well last year I thought I could turn it up a notch. I have been able to run Week 1 with no problems, just need to complete it one more time before moving onto week 2. I have also been riding my stationary bike on off days and next week I am adding some strength training like squats and pushups. The first pounds have come off fast but I have already hit my first plateau, so time to change it up and get going again.

 I seriously haven't had a soda (even diet) since the end of January. I tried a diet last week and it was sooo sweet, couldn't handle it. I know I have to drink more water, and less propel zero but I like the flavor and right now that is my go to drink. I also have been trying to run at a different park every time so I can see if I can find one that I really like. It is nice to get out of the house by myself and get into my own head a little. I also have been trying to cut down on my TV and read more. Basically I read that watching TV burns 60 calories an hour (the only thing with less is sleeping), but even sitting and reading will burn 100 instead. There is something about TV that zones us out. So I have been reading, and listening to audio books as I knit instead. Right now I am going through my knitting books one by one and reading them, making notes on what patterns I want to make, and then if I decided I don't like or need the book I am passing it on. I will eventually go through my aromatherapy, herbalism, gardening, and other books the same way.

 But that is about it. I plan on taking some time today to get this blogs sidebars updated and in general keep cleaning out my life and work of all the clutter. See you next week!


March 2-4 Lehigh Valley Flower Show

Hmmmm. where to begin...

This show has sooo much potential. It is only the second year they have been doing it again after a hiatus and a management change. It is small but beautiful, needs more flowers and some few other tweaks, but, overall I have been doing well so far. Not everyone can say that.

One this I have noticed about other artisans is that they tend to fall into two categories: people that are realists and those who are pessimists. Often pessimists can't be made happy no matter what their profits are, something is always wrong- the crowd is too small, two big, wrong age demographic, not asking enough questions, asking too many questions, you name it. These people are hard, if not impossible to make happy. Other people are realists, they can look at a show, see their potential and if they meet that potential they are happy. They may not return to that show the next year, because they could do something better, but they mak ethe best out of the situation they have while they are there.

I try and be a realist.

Based on that, I am pretty happy with this show. I think it should cost a little less, but it is early March and inside so I can't complain too much. I have made back my booth fee, and a small but acceptable profit. It will allow me to pay for three or four shows that are due this next week and usually I am putting those on a credit card, so avoiding that is great.

We have also found another show in June to do and those are few and far between, and we have adopted a cat from the rescue set up at this show. He is at home on a trial basis. And if he gets along with Fuchsia he can stay.

I can only believe reports from others that "last year had better sales" but I am satisfied so far.


March 1, 2012.. Where did the year go already???

I can't believe that it is already March! 2012 is just flying by. I literally have had getting a blog post up as a thing "to do" since Jan 1, but it just keeps falling off the list as other more important things some screaming to the surface.

Just a quick 8 week update... I made a trip with C to Puerto Rico to visit family. I was back for a few days (10) and began to get sick about 6 days into my stay at home. Still sick but expecting a full and speedy recovery I took a road trip with my BFF and we drove to Arizona and back so she could attend the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. That was about 14 days.

Still sick after my return, I convalesced for a few days, and then had a week to be home and make inventory. I started feeling better but still had a horrible cough and sniffles. Off again, I visited a friend in Delaware where I learned most likely I was the proud owner of a case of Whooping Cough. But it was too late to take anything for anything but the sniffles and cough, it would have to run it's course.

So it has been a week since my return, and I am finally, finally feeling better. The medicine I had been taking dried out my sniffles and the cough has subsided. I even have been able to get on my exercise bike for a bout a half hour a day.

Somewhere in this whole mess, Dad and I have kept the shop going. I have implemented a new web site, made the new soaps for this year, reinvented my bath soaks, made a myriad of special orders, and planned out a few new surprise new products (if they make it through the final development stage without issues).

Oh, we also have been adding vending dates, I started up on Twitter (@ANASoaps) and I think the new web site is paying off because orders are up and sales are strong.

We still have really far to go: we need to get inventory up to minimum levels in everything, soaps, lip balms, lotions, you name it, we are running out... I have three stores to get inventory up to par in, and need photos up on the web site as soon as possible.

But now that I have caught you all up I promise to stay up on this blog and let you all know what is going on every few days.

Thanks for listening!