Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Masquerade Favors



Here's a new design I've been working on...these lip balm favors were for a Sweet 16 party, but they'd also be great for Quincea├▒era partiesMardi Gras, or any other kind of masquerade party theme.

Order masquerade party favors here; you can specify your lip balm flavor, tulle bow color, and custom text.


You can choose personalized lotion favors with this design, too. This cupcake lotion for a sweet 16 party has custom fuchsia labels and tags. The Masquerade Tag is design #1192.

If you're interested in other types of party favors, we're happy to create something special for you. Our Kids Spa Party Favors can be made with lip balm, lotions, bath gels, sugar scrubs, lollipops, and more. For masquerade party labels, request design #112; for tags, design #1192.

Do you have any questions about our Masquerade Party Favors? Please contact us! We love making the perfect favors for your event.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Be Prepared


"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake."
W. C. Fields

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Something Green

We're all familiar with the saying, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue," but with the new popularity of environmentally conscious weddings, I think this hue might need an adjustment! Adding "Something Green" to your wedding to reduce its carbon footprint can be as simple as focusing on the other things...the old, new, and borrowed!

Something Old
When putting together your wedding wardrobe, consider vintage or thrift clothing. Many old styles can be new again with minor alterations, saving cost as well as resources.

Wedding jewelry is another way to incorporate something old into your plan. Many families have heirloom pieces that are passed from generation to generation; talk with parents or grandparents about your interest in continuing this tradition.

Something New
What's new for a lot of wedding couples is rethinking some traditional wedding choices. For example, the trend is toward bigger, more elaborate weddings, but choosing a smaller, more intimate wedding reduces the carbon footprint all the way around, from the invitations to the transportation, food to flowers. Choosing recycled or even tree-free invites, and selecting local sources for the venue and flowers can help keep the day Green.

For the food, choose local, seasonal, and organic when possible, and if you really want to do something new to your Green menu, eliminate the meat! There are lots of new ways to go Green with your event; check out Green Elegance Weddings for lots of other ideas for planning your day.

Something Borrowed
When you're thinking of what you could possibly borrow to make your wedding day green, be creative! Most people think of borrowing things--Aunt Dora's wedding veil, for example--but why not consider borrowing your cousin's apple orchard for your venue, your best friend's sewing skills for the bridesmaid's dresses, or your sister's sugar cookie recipe? Family and friends are often eager to help, so think of ways to borrow their knowledge and skills. Even more green: request to "borrow" these as your wedding gift!

Something Green
To help come up with new ideas to go Green, check out the following resources:
Portovert Magazine
Ethical Weddings
Eco Wedding Blog

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Going "Green"

Yesterday we announced our home (and business) transition to a Zero Emission, renewable energy source for electricity--but you may be wondering what else we're doing here to "go Green."

Recycling: We recycle everything possible, from plastic to paper, cardboard, and glass.

Shipping: Though we can't recycle styrofoam peanuts, we reuse them for our shipping (and hope our customers do, too!). We also reuse bubble wrap and packing boxes, and when we have to purchase packaging materials, we buy recycled and recyclable items whenever possible.

Purchasing: We try to purchase our materials as close to home as possible, and place orders in bulk to reduce packaging as well as transportation costs. We've also started to give business to companies that use Green power, or do other things to protect the environment. For example, The Paper Mill Store uses wind power in their facilities.

Commuting: We're lucky to work in a home office, which means a quick walk down the hall to work--no commute necessary!

Lighting: Our offices use only fluorescent lighting, in overhead and compact bulb fixtures.

Reducing: We've reduced our paper consumption by going digital for the majority of our communications, archiving, and banking. We have also chosen not to have a print catalog--our product catalog is our web site, which is totally digital and paper-free.

Printing: We offer recycled papers for our customized tags and cards, and we recycle our printer cartridges.

Products: In recent months we've changed some of our product containers to make them more readily recyclable for our customers, and we'll continue to offer more green options for packaging. We also will be offering new, green wedding favor wrapping, including biodegradable bags, lip balm tins, recycled paper tags, and raffia ties (watch for these options coming soon!)

Our lavender bud sachets are a great green alternative to wedding confetti--watch for new packaging options for these, too!

Do you have any suggestions for other green options? Let us know what you think! We love to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Zero Emissions for Earth Day!

Just in time for Earth Day 2008, we've made the commitment to purchase electricity that is 100% renewable, so our home (and home business!) now have ZERO EMISSIONS! If you're a Maine resident, click here to find out more about renewable energy options. If you're "from away" (as we say here in Maine), do a web search that includes your state and the term "renewable energy."

The cost per kWh for electricity from renewable sources is often a bit more than for standard offer, but we've made some changes to reduce our consumption which will help to offset these costs. If you're looking just to reduce the amount of electricity you use (and your bill), try some of these yourself.

1. Use fans to reduce or eliminate your need for air conditioning.

2. Dry laundry on a line or drying rack.

3. Replace all of your old light bulbs with compact fluorescents.

4. Turn off lights, fans, and air conditioners when you aren't in the room/house.

5. Use the sleep mode on your computer, or shut down completely when you aren't working. Better yet, eliminate the "phantom load" consumed by appliances when they aren't even on: plug TVs, computers, DVD players and other equipment into power strips and flip the switches when you leave.

It's a popular and persistent myth that lights, computers, etc. use more electricity to power up and should therefore just be left running all the time. And lots of people think that PCs are damaged by powering up and shutting down repeatedly. The wear and tear caused by shutting on and off is negligible, so remember to turn these items off when they aren't in use.

For more tips on saving electricity, check out "Mr. Electricity". This site is an amazing resource that helps you calculate your consumption and figure out how much you're saving by making these changes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

With Earth Day tomorrow, I decided to spend the week blogging about environmental issues--recyclable packaging, renewable energy, and all things "green." When I was looking for topics to blog about, I felt completely overwhelmed. I think looking at a big issue like global warming/climate change can make the average person feel powerless. What can one person do to make a difference?

As it turns out, one person can do a lot, but I think the trick is to tackle things one small piece at a time. We all get into our little "ruts" and it's hard to break habits. For example, I've been packing two kid-friendly school lunches every day for years, using handfuls of plastic bags, individually packaged snacks, and juice boxes that get emptied and thrown in the trash. Finally I decided to find other options, and since January my kids have had "greener" lunches. Here's what we changed:

1. In addition to the reusable lunch bags (which they've had for years), we added reusable sandwich bags to the kids' lunches. Wrap-n-Mats are really great--they're lined with PEVA, which is food-safe, and the outside is fabric. They fold around a sandwich and have a velcro closure (click to see how they work), and then they fold open and act as a clean placemat for the lunch. Super for picnics, too!

2. Instead of using plastic bags for chips, pretzels, crackers, and cookies, we reuse tupperware-type containers. Yes, they're still plastic, but can be used over and over again all through the school year, which reduces waste.

3. No more juice boxes or bags! As cool as these Basura bags are (made from recycled juice bags by a co-op in the Philippines, truly amazing!), most juice bags and boxes end up in the landfill. We use bottles like these, or reuse bottles that can eventually be recycled.

4. If you do need a plastic bag, consider one that's biodegradable. These cellulose bags come in a sandwich size and can be composted or recycled with paper. They break down in soil in a matter of months (compare that to the years it takes petroleum-based bags to break down).

There are lots of small things that you can change every day that make a big difference over time. We were using 80 or more plastic bags every month in lunches, 20-40 juice boxes or bags every month and now we don't use any of them. These were really simple things to change--things that actually ended up saving money--and they've become routine. What small thing can you change that could make a big difference?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

National Garlic Day Guacamole

Hey! Did you know that it's National Garlic Day today? I didn't either, but I think I'll do some cooking later. Or maybe just make some guacamole! I LOVE guacamole, and I make it with TONS of garlic. Here's my recipe:

• 3 ripe avocadoes, mashed
• juice of 1 lemon
• 2 or 3 cloves minced garlic (or 4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic--this is National Garlic Day, after all!)
• 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
• 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
• 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (or your favorite salsa)
• 1/2 cup chopped cucumber (I cut into long slices and remove the seeds first)

Mix all of the above, then refrigerate for a few hours so the flavors can mix. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or use to top burritos, etc. Leftovers should be refrigerated.

Happy Garlic Day!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Signs of Spring


Apart from a small drift on the lawn, all of the snow is gone, and look what was waiting underneath! I love these first brave flowers of the spring. They show up just when we need them, just when we need a sign. Now that it's warmer, the tulips will open in a week or two and the lilacs and lily of the valley will follow, but the crocus and snowdrops have been here for weeks, waiting for the sun.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bridal Story Lip Balms


Every couple has a different story. Between Once-Upon-a-Time and Happily Ever After, there may be a Blushing Bride, some Champagne and a Wedding Cake, Something Blue, and maybe even a little Sex on the Beach! Our Bridal Story Lip Balm Set tells one wedding tale...maybe it's yours?

This set is wrapped for giving and makes a unique Bridal Shower gift!

"I don’t let my disability get in my way"

When you first meet Stewart Caswell you might notice his crutches, or perhaps his main mode of transportation, a scooter named "Gunther." By the end of your visit, you won't remember how he entered the room—but you'll never forget his direct manner, friendly smile, and infectious chuckle (punctuated by wheezing if he really gets going).

Stew is my cousin, and he has had cerebral palsy since birth (as a breech baby, he was deprived of oxygen during delivery). But as you'll read below, he has never let his disability get in his way. In July, Stew will travel to Colorado to begin a six-month tour with Up with People, and he agreed to talk with me this week about the trip and what it means to him. (And please check out our new Chocolate Mousse lip balm, made especially for Stew--all proceeds will go to his Up with People Fund!)

What was the reaction of your family and friends when they heard you were accepted to Up with People?
Well, the first person I told was Mom, and she gave me a huge hug, and expressed how proud of me she was. The family members that knew what Up with People was were super excited as well… in fact, one of my aunts is already planning a trip to the Philippines for one of the weeks I’m there. When I explain to my friends what things I might be doing, they’re really happy for me, and tell me how jealous they are of me. And then I have this cousin who is donating her time and talents and making me my own lip balm to sell at home and on her site… oh wait. That’s you…

What unique qualities do you have that you think will be assets to Up with People?
I think the most obvious asset that I will bring is my love of languages, my patience, and my ability to solve problems in a unique way. Also, largely due to my disability, I am awesome at adapting to different situations, which will be key as we travel to different cultures which have different ways of acting and diverse ideas of politeness and hospitality, etc. I already have had extensive experience relating with people from different cultures, starting from when my family hosted a Ukrainian foreign exchange student for a year, and in recent years, I have worked with a lot of students that come to Rockland every year to participate in an English (language) immersion.

Up with People uses “music as a way to communicate and inspire people.” I know that you sang tenor in high school—what other musical and theatrical experience do you bring to the group?
In college, I was in many plays, including Shakespeare when I played LeBeau in As You Like It, and a couple of musicals: I played Dr. Everett von Scott in The Rocky Horror Show...and I played Cardamon the wizard in a production of Once upon a Mattress, which was such a cool experience as well. For USM’s production of Cabaret, I ran the light board, (and I also served as an unofficial dialect coach, thanks to my role in Rocky which required me to have a German accent) and the following year I was the co-sound designer for their production of Steven Sonheim’s Company. All along the (Up with People) tour, the students have the opportunity to have internships in a wide variety of areas, including ones in technical theatre. It would be great if I could be a lighting or sound intern, or who knows… maybe even a vocal intern.

What are you looking forward to the most?
I am looking forward to so many things; I’m not sure if there is enough hard drive space to be able to fit what I’m looking forward to… I am really looking forward to being in the company of people who are as open-minded as I am and who have the same passion towards international understanding. The show that we will put on is an incredible show, and just to be on stage and performing in front of crowds of varying sizes is going to be incredible. Cast C ’07 performed in a high school gymnasium, and then the very next week, they performed at the Bangor Auditorium. This year Up with People is going to be touring Mexico (as Viva la Gente) for the first time since 2000. The Mexicans love Up with People, and I’ve heard they treat us like rock stars down there, so that will be exciting. Also we’ll be in Mexico for their National Independence Days, September 15-16, and I’m really excited to see what goes on during that. Then there is the whole Philippines in the winter thing… I could go on for days with this question.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
I think that definitely my biggest challenge is going to be mostly physical challenges, mostly with stairs. Stairs and I have always had a stormy relationship. And there may be a point along the trip where I’ll have to walk long distances. The other challenge may be the culture shock of it all. I’ve never spent a month in a foreign country, and I’ll be spending a month in two foreign countries, so that will definitely be strange, but it will allow me to grow and make me stronger in my abilities to adapt to different situations.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself?
I’ve been going to occupational therapy to try to think of all the obstacles I’ll come up against, and solutions to those problems, which has been really beneficial to me: I can now button my own shirt, tie a tie, and put socks on. Also I’ve been doing weight training both at the physical therapy department at the local hospital and at home. When the snow melts and it becomes more bearable to be outside for more than three minutes, I’m going to work on some stamina things. I want to be able to walk both ways across the 1,000-foot footbridge with minimal exhaustion by the time I head out to Denver.

Does Up with People frequently have participants with disabilities? Why do you think this is important?
First of all, thank you for asking me this question. If what I hear is correct, in the past twenty years, Up with People has only had three or four participants with disabilities. So it isn’t that frequent to have a student with a disability on the tour. In the recent past, there have been a couple of blind participants. In fact there is a man by the name of Eduardo Aguirre (or Ed├║ for short) who handles the Alumni Development and also is the Mexico tour manager, since he is in fact Mexican. It’s great, because I have a contact there with someone who also uses a chair to get around who has toured with Up with People. Up with People is all about diversity and breaking down stereotypes, and as a person with a disability, I can bring my unique perspective to the group, and break down some of the major stereotypes out there about the disabled. I know that this country has come really far in terms of attitudes towards the disabled, but there are other countries that still have things to learn. Hopefully, by showing people that I don’t let my disability get in my way I can maybe change some attitudes and make people think about disabilities from a different perspective. It will also be interesting for me to ask the other participants about how their country views people with disabilities.

Mentoring is part of the Community Contribution encouraged by Up with People. It seems like you’ve already done some mentoring with the Life Skills class. Tell me a bit about that work.
I was fortunate enough through my substitute teaching work to be placed in this classroom at the high school that is for kids with profound mental deficits who really can’t work beyond a Kindergarten level. The kids are all super, and even when I’m not subbing for them they always come up to me, give me a high five and ask me about my weekend, etc. Whenever one of the teachers is out sick, they always call the sub coordinator and tell them to “send in Stew.” It’s great for the kids, because a) a lot of them can relate to me because of my disability, and b) they can see how self-sufficient I am and that motivates them to do the same. Every time I go in there, I really don’t feel like I’m working because it’s such a good atmosphere in there, and everybody is focused on the success of each of the kids. It’s awesome.

I see from your itinerary that you’re heading to the Philippines… have you been brushing up on your Tagalog?! Do you think your proficiency with languages will be helpful?
Believe it or not, I still remember some Tagalog phrases that one of my Filipino friends taught me, and I took two years of Spanish in college, which is the equivalent of four years of high school Spanish. I think that my proficiency in languages is going to help me tremendously, and it is one of the things I’m looking forward to. It’s going to be great to have the chance to learn phrases in a whole bunch of different languages, and hopefully pick up a fourth or fifth language along the way!

What do you hope to take away from this six-month experience?
This is truly going to be a global experience, and I have never really gotten out of Maine. So, first and foremost, I want to expand my horizons on a personal, and professional level, as well as to prove to myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to. Also, I will be traveling with 109 other students from about 20-25 different countries all around the world. Being on a tour with that many people doing extraordinary things is a bonding experience on a really large scale. So, by December, I’ll be able to say that I have 109 brothers and sisters from all over the world. Finally, I want to take away the feeling that I have truly helped people less fortunate than I am and have shown them that there are people out there who are dedicated to changing the world and making it a better place for everyone.

Thank you, Stewart, for sharing so much about this upcoming experience! If you want to learn more about Stew and his fundraising efforts, please visit his blog at www.frenchgeek.net. And don't forget to buy your Chocolate Mousse Lip Balm, available online and directly from Stew at his fundraising events.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shrinking Brides?

This article is pretty scary! Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Lori Neighbors) and Cornell (Jeffrey Sobal) followed 272 engaged women in the six months before their weddings. Seventy percent of the brides-to-be were trying to lose more than 20 pounds. Most did this in a healthy way, but "...researchers were distressed that more than 20 percent of the women they studied used methods they characterized as 'extreme,' including skipping meals, going on liquid diets, fasting, or taking laxatives or unprescribed diet pills and supplements. A small percentage even started smoking as a weight-loss strategy, while others began vomiting after meals. 'With the current high prevalence of anorexia nervosa and bulimia, the pressure of a wedding is one thing that may trigger this kind of unhealthy behavior,' says Sobal."

The article talks about some of the other things brides are doing to prepare for their wedding days, including tanning and Botox treatments. A wedding day, as special and important as it is, is one day. Is it worth destroying your health to look a certain way on ONE DAY? I know a lot of people would say yes, but I say: be careful! Please! If you're marrying the right person, they are happy with you just the way you are and it won't matter if you're thinner or browner or less blemished. Honest!

What do you think? Does anyone have an opinion about this?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Sensible Tailor



"The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them." --George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Somehow I missed this article last fall, but I happened upon it recently. Written back in October by Nora Zelevansky at Salon, it refers to the new trend in divorces--how publicly they are announced, even celebrated. She mentions how couples often seem so supportive of one another that, "All the saccharine sentiments, however well intentioned, make one yearn for a few good ole exclamations of 'bastard' and 'bitch.'"

I do think this is what happens, though it used to happen a bit more privately! But if you're going to celebrate, why not go all the way? Divorce parties definitely have gotten more popular recently, and if you need a favor to share, there's always Dirty Bastard. I have gotten more comments about this lip balm than any other product I have. People just laugh when they see it, and as author Jill Connor Browne says, "The parts in life that aren't funny are the parts we need to laugh at most." I couldn't agree more!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Inspiring Story of the Week!

I got an email from Amazon today letting me know that as someone who has purchased horror movies in the past, I might be interested in this new movie called "The Ruins" which opens in theaters today. I got such a kick out of this because I've been keeping track of this movie since it was being filmed last summer in Australia.

This movie was directed by Carter Smith, who was a classmate of mine in high school. I find his story so inspiring that I just had to share it. Carter went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY, initially for fashion design, but then studied fashion photography. He had a successful career in photography, with his work appearing in GQ and Vogue. But he was always interested in film, so a few years ago he wrote a screenplay adaptation of a short story, then self-financed and directed a short film. The film, "Bugcrush," went on to win the jury prize for short filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, and got lots of attention. Carter was given the opportunity to direct "The Ruins" based largely on his work on "Bugcrush"-- apparently Steven Spielberg was a fan, and Scott Smith, the author of "The Ruins," also admired Carter's film.

What I love is how Carter created these great opportunities for himself. He made "Bugcrush" on his own dime (filmed it at our local high school here in Maine), and had the confidence to submit it to Sundance. That's a lot of belief in himself, his creativity and vision, and I find that so inspiring! So many times you hear people talk about why they can't do something--not enough money or time or support--it's all about the excuses. I love that these new opportunities came to Carter from his investment in and belief in himself and his work. (Here's what Carter himself said in another recent article: "The best thing you can do as a filmmaker, as a photographer, a writer, whatever you want to do, is really follow your vision. And I think that by staying true to yourself and the story that you want to tell, and the way that you want to tell it, that's what people are looking for and respond to." YES!!)

When I read in the local paper that the movie premiered in LA on Wednesday, I did a little search for premiere and after party photos, and had so much fun seeing my former chem lab partner posing with Jena Malone and Ben Stiller! Way to go local kid! Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mindful Speech

Can't remember where I came across it, but I've found myself referring to this frequently in the past few weeks: "To be mindful, speech must be true, timely, useful, and said gently and with compassion." Can you imagine if everyone actually spoke this way? Of course there are many people who do--and you probably can think of a few of them right off, just as I can. People who are compassionate and kind are always the ones we seek when we need someone to talk to. But mindful speech is not easy. I find often it's easier to offer my opinion, and not always in the gentlest way! Maybe I keep thinking about this quote because I need to work on this!!

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