Sunday, March 30, 2008

April Balm

So here's April's Flavor of the Month...April's Violet. It's a gin cocktail-inspired flavor, with flavors of orange and grenadine and it's a great purple color.

(It's also the Free balm of the month for April. Did you know we were doing that? I'm trying something new to see if anyone notices! Check out our April newsletter if you're interested in adding this to your next order FREE OF CHARGE. And if you haven't joined our mailing list so you can get these coupons for discounts and free stuff, please consider joining!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring Parties

Last summer my daughter Bronwyn celebrated her ninth birthday with a few close friends and their favorite dolls! We had a tea party for everyone with a special table set for the dolls, complete with doll-sized snacks and cupcakes. While my daughter's birthday is in July, I think some of these ideas are perfect for spring birthdays, too.

Of course we started by sending out tea party theme invitations to the girls, and doll-sized ones for each doll. Our menu included tiny tea sandwiches, small pretzels, and other finger foods, but the most fun part was the butterflies. We used these fun mini butterfly cookie cutters to make candy decorations for the cupcakes, and also made tiny sugar cookies that we wrapped up as party favors for the girls.

To make candy butterflies (or other shapes) to perch atop your cupcakes, roll a fruit chew candy into a thin sheet on wax paper and cut out with the cutters. (These candies may seem hard at first but will soften in your fingers and can then be rolled easily.) Mix multiple flavors and colors of candy for a rainbow effect. Decorate cupcakes with frosting flowers or berries and arrange butterflies among the foliage!

Along with the packages of sugar cookies, we also made up favors with special tags that matched the theme. If you're planning a child's party this spring, we have butterfly theme favors and lots more! We'd love to help you make your party as special as Bronwyn's!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hang out to dry

A friend forwarded this article to me and I had to share and comment. It seems that in other New England states, people are having to fight for their right to hang out their laundry. Clotheslines have been banned in some housing developments because hanging out laundry is thought to bring down property values. But of course so many people are thinking about how to conserve energy and go "green" that there's a real conflict about this. The article commented that some of these folks have started hanging their laundry in the house, and I said, "Hey! That's me!"

In January of this year I made a few changes, and one was to stop using my clothes dryer. Our house is so dry during the winter months that we run a humidifier, but at the same time I am running the dryer to take the moisture out of the clothes. That seemed crazy to me, so I bought a drying rack and for two months now I've been hanging the laundry in the living room. A bit inconvenient, I admit, but I think it makes a difference. Only a fridge uses more electricity than a dryer in a typical house, and I've found that we save at least $15-$25 per month for the dryer and humidifier. It only takes a few moments longer to hang the laundry, so I plan to continue even into the summer, putting the drying rack out on the deck (it's in the back yard, so my neighbors won't comment!).

Clotheslines are so common in rural areas here in Maine that I don't really think about them, but I suppose in more crowded areas hanging laundry affects the view. Does anyone have an opinion about this? Should this be more an issue of property values or of global warming?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cleanliness and Godliness?

I have never been a neat freak, and with my husband and his "vertical filing" system (probably should be called a "piling" system), and two kids with all their stuff, things can get pretty cluttered! I clean frequently, but when I organize things they seem to find their way back out in a day or two. I always felt that I should spend more of my time keeping everything in it's place, and my lack of interest in these tasks always felt like a failing on my part.

More recently, though, I've had a change of heart. I've come to see the really interesting games my kids come up with when they have different toys to play with. What if I didn't let them play with the blocks and the legos at the same time? Would they come up with such creative ideas? And I see my desk the same way--of course you keep things organized well enough so you don't have to spend all your time searching for things, but a completely spotless desk is too sterile and boring to me. I am always trying to come up with something new and different, which is more difficult (I reasoned) when everything is where it "belongs."

Turns out it wasn't just my rationalization! David H. Freedman has co-written a book called “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder,” and he comments on some of the drawbacks of being too neat in this recent article. "One, he says, is the loss of creativity. 'If you make your environment very neat, you’re making everything predictable,' he says. 'You will lock out bad things — you’re less likely to be late, things are less likely to spill or break — but you’re also locking out luck.' That messy desk or kitchen is more conducive to making the random connection that could lead to a scientific breakthrough or a new recipe."

Even if I've decided not to feel guilty about something anymore, it always makes me feel better when an "expert" says it's okay, too! So I'm not going to apologize anymore for being disorganized--I'll keep everything clean, and a bit cluttered, too!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Signature Mocktails

One of the cool new trends is to have a Signature Cocktail--people are creating them for bridal showers and weddings, often to match their themes. We've added a bunch of cocktails to our Girls' Night balms that reflect some of these ideas, like blushing bride, something blue, and happily ever after, but we figured the baby shower folks were missing out!

When people are ordering for baby showers, they often will tell me that they don't want a cocktail flavored lip balm because they've banned alcohol (out of sympathy for the mom-to-be). So how about Signature Mocktails?

Ta-da! The new flavors are Apple of my Eye, Babylove, and Lullaby, the recipes for the real drinks are on my site, and yes, we made lip balms to match! Such perfect names for the baby shower favors.

Check out these new recipes and balms as well as some new ideas for planning baby showers (theme choices, food ideas, even party favors for "big sisters"). And as always, please let us know what you think!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Porn for Women

This is one of the funniest books I've seen in a loooong time. I can't remember where I read about it initially, but I went straight to Amazon and ordered it (okay, ordered a bunch of them...I thought of oodles of people who would be amused!). It came yesterday and what a hoot! It's a book full of photos of men doing all the things that average women find "hot"--you know, doing the dishes, scrubbing the toilets, cleaning the cat box. The captions are hysterical. "As long as I have legs to walk on, you'll never have to take out the garbage."

This would make such a cool addition to a bridal shower gift! It's pretty PG, too, so it would be appropriate for almost everyone. It was created by the "Cambridge Women's Pornography Cooperative" and they have a calendar and other books, as well. Very clever!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

How to Save on Print Design

I'm continuing my tips for saving on design (see the previous post about saving on web design), and today I'm writing about saving on print design. So many of us with small businesses need postcards, flyers, and brochures, and may not have the time, software, or skills to design them for ourselves. Here are some tips for working with a print designer.

1. Decide how you want to print your project

To prepare your print job as efficiently as possible, a print designer will want to know how you want to have your piece printed. Will you be having it offset printed? If so, choosing a printer at the beginning of the project can save time (and money) because the designer can prepare the file to the printer’s specifications. Offset files, short run print solutions, online print providers, or files (such as letterhead) which you can print from your own computer may require slightly different design solutions, and converting between different formats is possible but will incur additional costs.

2. Decide when you want your project completed

Every company can think of a time when something came up and they needed an ad, brochure, or postcard in record time. Lots of designers are willing and able to work on accelerated schedules, but almost all will charge more for rush work. If you can plan well in advance, you will generally be rewarded with a smaller invoice.

3. Prepare your own content

Content development services may be provided by the company designing your print piece, but these services are not usually included with a print design. Developing your own text and providing graphics and photos will save you the expense of content development.

4. Provide content in digital form

As with web design, to save even more from your print costs, provide your content in digital form (usually Word or text files for your written content, high resolution JPEG or TIFF files for your photos and logos). For photos, logos,etc., a resolution of 300 dpi is generally required for print work.

5. Submit only finalized text for layout

This is important for web design, but vital for print. Be sure that you’re providing only your final drafts of materials. Fitting text around graphics is like putting together a puzzle, and if you make significant changes to the text, the pieces won’t fit together the same way. Providing edited or rewritten text after a designer has created the layout of your print piece will sometimes require a complete redesign. This is like paying for the same job twice! Easy solution: finalize your text before you send it to the designer.

6. Check your print proofs carefully

Whenever your designer provides proofs for your review, check them carefully. The most important set are the final print proofs; your project will print exactly as it is represented in these proofs, so make sure these are right. If you have chosen to have your piece offset printed, changes to your pieces after this point can be very expensive. Even if you’re printing at Kinko’s, hundreds of copies of a typo can get expensive. A few minutes of care can really save.

Please let me know if you found these tips or the previous web design saving tips helpful! Also let me know if you have any other tips to share--add your comments below!


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