Friday, January 29, 2010

Feedback Friday: Lemon Blueberry

This week we're starting a new feature that we hope will become a regular part of the blog, and we're calling it Feedback Friday. Here's how this works:

• Every other Friday I'll post a product, fragrance, or flavor, and tell you a little bit about it. I might talk about the ingredients, or how the product came about in the first place. I'll show you examples of it, and show you where you can get it. Then the fun starts...

• If you've already tried the product, I welcome you to share your opinions by leaving a comment. Please don't be shy! And don't feel that you have to share only positive comments... sometimes you don't like a particular fragrance, or you think a flavor of balm is too strong or not true to its name. I want to know! How can I improve our products if I don't know what customers want? If you haven't tried the product, we're going to make it easy for you by...

• Offering a free sample. This week, Feedback Friday is Lemon Blueberry fragrance, and the free sample, available for the next two weeks, is a trial size bottle of Lemon Blueberry lotion. You can add one to your next order (make sure you use the Sweetie Coupon for a discount on your order) and try it out. Then what I hope you'll do is...

Come back here and tell us what you think! This is a chance for you to try a new product and share your opinions with others, and a way for me to really see what you think! I'll also be testing a few new fragrances this spring, so you can weigh in on the products we offer in the coming months. I hope you'll think about sharing your thoughts with us!

lemon blueberry lotionLemon Blueberry fragrance is a custom blend that I put together in 2005 soon after I started making products. I live in Maine, which is the largest producer of lowbush blueberries in the world. Blueberries appear everywhere here, as motifs in home décor, fragrances in candles, and of course featured in everything from pies to cheesecakes, muffins, and pancakes. Making a fragrance and flavor with blueberries was a natural, then, but we made it different by adding tart lemon. The result is our exclusive, sweet and citrusy blend that smells like dessert.

While this fragrance was first popular with our local customers, it's become our overall best-selling fragrance. If you want to see what the fuss is about, order your sample! Then please come back to share your opinion!

Lemon Blueberry is available in:
hand creams
bath gel (with real blueberry seeds for gentle exfoliation)
sugar scrub (also with real blueberry seeds)
bath salts
gift sets

We even make a matching lip balm flavor! Have you tried any of these products? What did you think? Please let us know by adding your comment below!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sweetie Coupon for Valentine's Day

Are you thinking about ordering something for your Sweetie for Valentine's Day? Please use this coupon and take 10% off your order placed on or before 2/28/10. Use promotional code SWEETIE10 at checkout.

Thank you for being such a great customer!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Word of the Week: Young

Last week we celebrated my husband's 39th birthday; he'll forgive me for sharing that if I mention that mine will follow in a few weeks. It's an interesting birthday when you really start thinking about it, and apparently he was spending a bit of time thinking about what it meant to be young.

"I realized something yesterday," he told me. "You make me feel young, and the kids--as they get older--are making me feel old. So between all of you, I think it balances out."

"Aww, that's such a nice thing to say!" I told him. (And then, "Hey, we need to get rid of these kids, making us feel old before our time..." I was kidding. Sorta.)

But since I will celebrate the same birthday soon, I started thinking about youth, age, and what it means to be young. A Facebook friend asked others how they felt about coloring their hair, and most said they were afraid to stop because they'd look older. I stopped doing it some time ago (even wrote about it) and commented, "I figure why let someone else decide what 'young' is or looks like?" That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

What do you think? What kinds of things make you feel young? Have you celebrated a birthday and realized you weren't "young" anymore? Which one was it? Do you think people should try to look as young as possible, or do you feel that it's okay to age naturally (gray hairs included)? Do you look forward to each birthday, or do you find yourself celebrating the same one over and over? (I may do as my grandfather did, and stick with 39 until my kids get there!) Please share your thoughts!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday is a Gray Dawn Breaking

I've broken all the rules this week. Today is supposed to be wordless, but I wanted to share this poem with the photo.

Sea Fever

I MUST go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

John Masefield

Monday, January 18, 2010

Word of the Week: Words

I like to talk, I like to write, and I take my words for granted. Nearly ten years ago my uncle (pictured here with my son) was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a disorder of language that progresses over time. At first he had difficulty speaking. Then reading, spelling, and writing became challenging, too. For much of that time he could understand what others said to him, but had a hard time forming responses. More recently, conversation was nearly impossible.

Throughout this time, he and his wife dealt with this frustrating condition with incredible grace. I am certain I would never have been as patient as either of them. Their strength and their love has been truly inspiring.

Sadly, my uncle passed away yesterday. When I last saw him several months ago, I could only say hello and give him a hug. No other words were possible. I left that visit missing him. Even though he was there in the room, I realized how much you lose when you can't share words. So much of the connections we have with each other are about our conversations: voicing ideas, sharing endearments. We take our words for granted.

I don't usually make requests here, but today I want you to do two things for me. The first thing is to remember the nicest thing someone ever said to you. Think about how their words made you feel. Think about how powerful a feeling it was to have someone acknowledge you, maybe praise you, compliment you, or thank you.

The second thing I want you to do is to say something nice to someone else. Don't be stingy with your words! It's so easy to thank someone for their help, compliment a job well done, or simply tell them how much they mean to you. And it means so much to the person who hears it. Never, ever take your words for granted.

To learn more about aphasia, please visit the National Aphasia Association.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Local Flavor: Finger Lakes Distilling

Several months ago I worked with Finger Lakes Distilling on some custom products. As I learned more about their business, I was impressed by their focus and creativity, particularly the ways they have incorporated green and eco-friendly practices to build their business. Co-owner Jenny McKenzie generously agreed to answer some of my questions so I could share their story with you.

Overlooking Seneca Lake in upstate New York, Finger Lakes Distilling offers artisanal spirits with the distinctive flavors of the region. A member of the Finger Lakes wine trail, the distillery is the brainchild of Brian McKenzie, a former bank vice-president who was interested in starting a business with his wife, Jenny. A fortuitous meeting at a craft distillers conference in 2007 got the ball rolling. Thomas Earl McKenzie had a background in wine-making, farming, brewing and consulting for breweries, with skills that complemented Brian's experience in business and finance. The two (unrelated) men shared a name and an interest in distilled spirits, and worked well together to build the distillery. “It is a family business,” says Jenny McKenzie. “We couldn’t do it without a lot of support from our family and friends. They have volunteered to help with everything from watching our 2-year-old daughter Lucie to bottling, labeling, deliveries, sales, and working in the tasting room.”

This sense of community figures prominently in the distillery’s daily operations, as they work with many other businesses in the area. “We have distilled some wine that the winemakers were not happy with for one reason or another into a neutral spirit. This allows them the ability to fortify with their own product instead of shipping it in from another area,” Jenny says. They work with a local chocolatier, Renée Suzette's, who uses the distillery’s liqueurs in her truffles and chocolate sauce. Finger Lakes Distilling also belongs to local and state organizations including New York Farm Bureau, Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

The regional focus at Finger Lakes Distilling has inspired more than their business interactions: their products begin with local ingredients and each is imbued with the flavors of the region. Unlike the potato-derived vodkas of Russia (and our local distillery here in Maine), the version made by Finger Lakes is distilled from grapes and retains the flavor of that local harvest. Their Seneca Drums Gin is also distilled from local grapes and infused with 11 different botanicals before a second distillation. And their new McKenzie Rye Whiskey starts with local grain and finishes in sherry barrels from local wineries, imparting a reminder of the distillery’s location in wine country. Their fruit-infused liqueurs are fairly bursting with the flavors of locally grown black currants, raspberries, blueberries, apples, and cherries; the distillery has 4 acres of its own grapes, and sources most of its other ingredients within a 50 mile radius.Utilizing locally grown produce, collaborating and cooperating with other regional businesses—these are “green” practices, which Finger Lakes has adopted at every step. “As far as the green aspect, we designed the building and business with that in mind,” Jenny says. Reclaimed lumber has gone into the construction of the distillery, from storage shelves to flooring. Process water is recycled, and heat generated during processing is used to heat the building’s water. Very little is wasted; “We work with local farmers to ferment and distill fruit that may otherwise go to waste because of bruising or having a slight flaw,” Jenny says. Even the spent grains from fermentation are not thrown away but fed to animals at local farms.

The distillery currently offers vodka, gin, corn and rye whiskeys, and a variety of liqueurs. While several of their products can be purchased at New York restaurants, bars, and select retail locations, some are only offered at the distillery. A tasting room and gift shop is open year round, offering an assortment of cocktail-related products and gifts (including the liqueur-inspired custom lip balms we created to "match" their most popular flavors—see Jenny's excellent photo!). “I decided to keep the gift shop focused around barware,” Jenny says. “I carry funny cocktail napkins, martini glasses, flasks, bar tools, logo merchandise and high end decanters and glassware. I also have cocktail infusers made by Teaforte that are pretty interesting. We also carry vintage cocktail books, mixers and bitters.”

Their self-distributed line may soon be expanding to a restaurant or retail location near you, but in the meantime you can visit them online at their web site and follow new product releases and distillery news on their Facebook page and blog! If you're visiting the Finger Lakes area, make sure to stop by for a visit (and a taste!)

Photos of the distillery © Finger Lakes Distilling.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Helping Haiti

I had a handful of other things I was going to share this week, but found I didn't have the heart to do it after watching the repeated news of Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti. This morning I read what Lisa Rodgers at Cactus and Ivy is doing. I highly recommend this post for inspiration, as well as for practical suggestions on how you can help.

My daughter came home from school yesterday and asked if she could send some of her money to the Red Cross. I told her we were donating as a family. If you are so inclined, The Red Cross web site makes it simple to donate. Unicef is also accepting donations. There are scams out there, so be cautious when choosing an organization to support.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Twilight Theme Birthday Party Favors

One special order that I worked on last week was for a Twilight-inspired birthday party. I had made the Twilight lotion and purse potion (fragrance) before for a local craft fair, but hadn't made a lip balm.

This is my first time making a lip is a dark blood red color in the tube, but only makes lips a bit redder. We decided to call it "Last Kiss." The purse potion perfume we called "Edward Forever" (the lotion and perfume have the Edward fragrance, which we previously described as: "honey, lilacs, and sunshine." The addition of vanilla, grapefruit, heliotrope and dry wood creates a sporty, clean scent that is suitable for men but enjoyed by women, as well.)

The best part of the lotion and fragrance: both contain glitter so the guests will shimmer like vampires! What a fun project! I love doing special requests for theme parties and events. Hope Caitlin has a happy birthday!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Word of the Week: Quality

"The market will reward quality." This quote is on the cover of the January 2010 issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, which sits on my desk hoping to enlighten me by osmosis. In the umpteen years we've subscribed, my knowledge of personal finance actually has increased a little, but I am still puzzled by quotes like this one by strategist Liz Ann Sonders.

Of course it's a small piece of a larger quote: "In the first phase of this bull market, we saw a market that was biased toward very, very low-quality companies. What we’re likely to see now is a shift into an environment in which fundamentals will come a little more into play and where the market will reward quality to a greater degree in the next leg of the cycle." And of course I'm baffled because I'm relating this quote not to personal finance but to my work with products and my experiences as a customer.

The dictionary describes quality as "character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence; high grade; superiority; excellence." I think everyone has a sense of what it means for something to have quality. The dollar store items my kids buy with their pocket money often fall apart before we get home, which indicates a lack of quality (at least to me!). How often you have to replace or repair something might be one way you consider its quality. The materials it's made with, its design, and how skillfully it's made might be other ways. I go through a mental checklist of some or all of these things when I make purchases. I also think about quality when I choose ingredients, packaging, labels--everything for my own products. I "kick the tires" of potential purchases because in general, I want quality. I assume this is something most people look for.

A quote like this is baffling to me because if quality IS what people want, the "market" should ALWAYS reward quality. My own feelings about quality don't fluctuate with trends or markets. I guess for me there are always "fundamentals" in play that don't ever change. How do you feel about quality? Is it important to you when you're shopping? Is it more important than price? What do you think?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Post Partum Pamper Party Pedi Favors

Say that three times fast!

This is one of the gifts I worked on this week. They are mini pedicure favors with sugar scrub and foot cream, decorated with personalized labels and tags. I think this is a great idea for a "welcome the baby" type party!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Three Words for the Year

Last year I remember seeing Chris Brogan's "Three words for 2009" and thinking what a good idea that is. Instead of making New Year's Resolutions, Brogan thinks of three words that he uses as beacons or guideposts of his year. They may sound unrelated, and sometimes obscure, but the three you choose should have relevance to you, your life, your work, your path. (Here are his 3 words for 2010. The comments have other examples, with some really inspiring stuff.)

I decided late in 2009 that I was going to do this instead of making resolutions. I rarely follow through with resolutions to the letter (which ends up feeling like failure), and when I occasionally manage to do so before December 31, I feel like I'm cheating if I don't come up with new ones for the rest of the year. Three words are better for me because they will work all year long, and they don't feel as "pass/fail" as resolutions feel. There's wiggle room there.

So instead of a word of the week for this first week of January, here are my three words of the year: Aspire. Prune. Kindness.

1. Aspire: Remember when you were a kid and there was something you really wanted? I can remember really longing for things (mostly toys), and feeling breathless if I thought I'd never have them. As an adult I have often tried to avoid that feeling; I have told myself "that's impractical," or "that's too complicated, I'll never be able to figure out how to do/get/be that."

Aspire means to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; to be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value. The archaic meaning is to rise up or soar. And literally, "aspiration" means breathing. Longing for things that are higher than we are and bigger than we are is as natural as breathing. So this year I'm going to remember to breathe. I'm going to consider ideas and plans that might be too complicated or impractical (a larger work space, perhaps?), and allow myself to long for things that might be just out of my reach. And then I'm going to rein myself in with the next word, which is...

2. Prune: I grow raspberries and some years I pick as many as 11 quarts of fruit from my canes. Late summer, after the canes are spent, I cut the dead wood to make room for new growth the following spring. Pruning allows me to see the new growth clearly and care for the plants properly, making for a bigger harvest.

Sometimes it's tempting to allow personal and business responsibilities to grow wild. More is better, right? But cutting out "dead wood" makes room for new growth outside the garden, too. Unhealthy relationships (with friends or clients), unprofitable product lines, anything that makes you feel negative, unhappy, or unproductive is dead wood and needs to be pruned. So this year I'm also going to remember that there's no room for new until I've removed some of the old.

3. Kindness: I always think that when I see the same message over and over again, someone's trying to tell me something. As I was choosing my three words I considered many, but kindness appeared on every list. Articles I saw online and in magazines kept talking about kindness. And when I tuned in and considered why this word kept appearing, I realized that this has really become the center of my work.

When I give a brief description of my job, I tell people that I "specialize in designing tiny thank-yous in personalized packages." As I work with people every day, I've come to understand that in helping people to say thank you--to make others in their lives feel special and celebrated--I'm helping to spread kindness. (It's actually a pretty cool job.) Kindness is also a perfect word for my personal life because it can remind me to be kind to myself in all of those ways that I tend to forget (eat right, exercise, get more sleep...yes, Mom...).

Those are my words for 2010: Aspire, prune, kindness. Have you chosen words or resolutions for the year? What are your plans for 2010? Please share your thoughts!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year Greetings!

Baby steps in the New Year, baby steps with new media...let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Retro: The Old is New in the New Year

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been interested in retro fashion and design lately. This fall I started following the tweets of businesses with vintage and antique products (lots of them at Etsy). Then I started adding to my collection of retro fonts. After that, of course I had to put together more retro tags and labels (which you can find here and there, most notably in our designs for bachelorette favors). I've even expanded our line of Sweetini Spa products with more options for their retro colors and packaging.

Clearly I'm not alone in my affinity for all things retro. Maybe it's shows like Mad Men that are creating the demand; that kind of eye candy just makes us want more. More bright red lips (how 'bout Cha-Cha cherry from PRIIA Cosmetics?) and the skills to apply them. More clothing, more jewelry, more accessories and décor for the home. If you're planning a wedding, a retro theme (à la Mad Men) is a hot new choice.

In fact, I've seen so many retro-style wedding photos, vintage and up-cycled items in wedding décor, and vintage bridal vendors on Etsy, I'm convinced that retro weddings will be an even bigger trend in 2010. That's my prediction! If retro is part of your plan, here are some resources and sites for inspiration. Some of these are vintage, some retro-inspired:

For vintage beads and ideas for retro jewelry designs, check out The Beadin Path. I love this Bettie Page-inspired necklace. Follow Heather on Twitter.

Vintage shoes by Thrush on Etsy. Find the latest on Twitter.

Can we ever have too many shoes? I think not. AdVintagous has vintage shoes, too, as well as purses, luggage, hats, accessories, and more. And they're on Twitter.

Vintage jewelry and accessories at funretro on Etsy. Stay up to date at Twitter.

Can't you just see a row of bridesmaids, all in cat's eye sunglasses? Love that. You can find them (the glasses, that is) here at Daddy-O's.

Even more vintage jewelry at Purple Daisy Jewelry, also on Etsy, also on Twitter (are we sensing a pattern?).

Hair accessories by Dungaree Dolly's. The dark turquoise feathers are my favorite. Dolly has beautiful purses inspired by old Hollywood, too. Fabulous!

Marla J Designs (at Etsy) has birdcage veils and other vintage bridal accessories, including hairpins, headbands, hair combs and fascinators. Want to follow Marla J on Twitter? Of course you do.

The Ruby Kitten has the retro bride covered for the honeymoon: vintage lingerie, anyone? Keep track of their new items on Twitter.

For the DIY retro bride, SurrenderDorothy's is a great place to pick up some buttons, findings, or vintage fabrics. Twitter link.

This is only the tip of the vintage and retro iceberg. Please let us know about your favorite vintage or retro designers and shops! Share your comments below! And don't hesitate to contact us if you're interested in favors for your retro-theme wedding or event.


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