Monday, March 29, 2010

Word of the Week: Build

I've been posting photos of my current workspace on my Facebook page. I'll share one with you here, too (see at left--this is my work desk where I cut the tags and decorate the favors). One of this year's three words is aspire; I started the year writing about wanting a new work space. I also wrote about it several weeks ago when the word of the week was hope.

This week's word is build. We're not building the new space yet, but we've been thinking a lot about it. We're working on plans, making decisions, trying to imagine what it will be like. I'm trying to visualize it and getting more excited all the time. I think building anything is a little like this. Even with my business, I try to imagine what I want something to be, I plan and make decisions, and then I build. What about you? What are you building right now that you're excited about?

"Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build." ~ Robert Collier

"Build today, then strong and sure, With a firm and ample base; And ascending and secure. Shall tomorrow find its place." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down." ~ Ray Bradbury

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Feedback Friday on Sunday

Oops! I just realized that I worked straight through Friday without writing a Feedback Friday post! So this week it'll just have to be Feedback Sunday.

I thought this week I would provide a summary of the past few weeks. We've done four Feedback Fridays so far: Lemon Blueberry
Green Clover & Aloe
Apricot Freesia

We have a few samples of the first three (available here) and of course we still have samples of Apricot freesia, as well. We'd love it if you'd try one of these fragrances and let us know what you think!

A few weeks ago we made Apricot Freesia a Feedback Friday selection because we were planning to introduce it as a Mother's Day fragrance. We wanted your opinion, and to make it more interesting we decided to offer a gift set giveaway. There's still time to enter! Please visit the Apricot Freesia post for giveaway details. (One of our Facebook fans tried Apricot Freesia and said, "I think I have a new favorite." Who knows, maybe it'll be your new favorite, too?)

If you'd like to leave a comment but you're having trouble, you can check out our mini tutorial. Or email me directly (emily @ remove the spaces) and I'll help you to post it! I want everyone to have a chance to win!

I think we'll try another block of four Feedback Fridays and wrap that one up with a gift set giveaway, too. What do you think? Do you like these featured fragrances and flavors every few weeks and getting a chance to try samples? Let me know what would make Feedback Fridays even better! Please leave your comments!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Word of the Week: Runaway

My aunt recently posted a link to this article on Facebook: Running Away: A Primer for Moms. I'm sure every mom can relate to this (if she's totally honest). I have long flirted with running away, and believe that the temptation is sometimes even greater in those of us who work from home.

Don't get me wrong, working at home is great. Ideal, even. Everything you need is right here, you don't need to take sick days when your kids aren't well, you can drop by the office on a Sunday to finish something up, and your commute is really, really short.

But the downside is the distractions: those unfolded piles of laundry aren't left behind when you head to work, they're staring you in the face from the living room while you eat your lunch. The dirty dishes taunt you from the sink. And when the kids get home from school, forget about finishing that last half hour of work: it's Pokemon time.

With me, the temptation started early. I remember when my daughter was only a few weeks old. My husband had returned to work and I had spent a few long days and even longer nights on 100% baby duty. One evening he returned home and I handed over the baby and wordlessly left the house. I ventured exactly 17 steps from the front door to check my neglected garden, but I remember the nervous looks he gave me from the kitchen window. He even called out to me a few times, asking what I was doing out there. I think he could sense how intoxicating even that ten minutes of "freedom" felt.

I returned to the house before he completely panicked, but over the years I've escaped frequently. Trips to the garden, in particular, recharge my battery and help keep me (literally) grounded and calm about the rest of my life. I've decided that it's not something to be alarmed about, this desire to run away (even if it's just to the grocery store). Running away can be good for the soul.

What do you think? Do you dream about running away? Where would you go?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Planning a Coral Theme Bridal Shower

I got a call today from someone who was planning a coral theme bridal shower and just couldn't find any paper products (napkins, paper plates, etc.) that matched. I did a little hunting online to see what I could find, and I figured this might help someone else who is planning, here are some resources I found. (P.S. We've just updated these designs as of 3/15/13.)

Coral trellis cocktail napkins (see left) Cocktail napkins are 10" x 10" open. This design also is available in Luncheon napkins (13" square) and paper guest towels (13" x 16").

Chevron coral paper plates (see at right). I really dig these square paper plates in this most trendy pattern, available in guest towels, luncheon napkins, place cards, and cocktail napkins in this same design and color (if you click the link above, you'll see the links to these other products just below the main product).

If you're planning a coral shower that literally has shells and coral, these coral sea fans plates and napkins (see left) might work well for you. They have 10" square cocktail napkins,  13" square luncheon napkins, and 16" dinner napkins. This design is also available in paper guest towels,  7.25" plates and 10.25" plates.

Thinking florals? Here are Daisies Elegance napkins, guest towels, and paper plates in assorted sizes. (See design at right)

If you're looking for just plain-ol' coral plates and table covers, here's the place.

And of course, if you're looking for coral bridal shower favors, we'd love to help you! Check out our coral wedding theme page, order your favors here, or contact us directly to share your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Six Pack Abs? Maybe a Keg.

A friend of mine posted this on her blog, and it was just too funny not to share it. I jokingly started a "Six Pack Abs Challenge" with my husband earlier this year. It's nice to see that other people still have kegs like we do (and have a sense of humor about it). Enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Word of the Week: Share

The word this week is share. Here are a few things I love.

1. girlsavage feltidermy. Heads on walls are big here in Maine. I've been a vegetarian for over 25 years and I admit, they creep me out a little. I always figured that the right kind of taxidermy for a vegetarian would be a stuffed TOY animal on the wall. When I saw girlsavage's Etsy shop, I fell in love. I follow her on Twitter and check out her shop frequently. I'm hoping to add one of her pieces to the wall of my new office!

2. Cupcakes. This blog is awesome. The cupcake ideas here are just incredible. I love seeing all of the creative things people come up with.

3. chewlry's jewelry. Especially this bracelet--I love the colors. Oh, and this charm bracelet. You can follow her on Twitter, too.

4. Dandy Lion Press. The letterpress cards, particular the Sea Creatures, are just exquisite. Lots of bunnies here, too, and jackalopes.

Where do you like to shop for gifts (or for yourself)? Do you like handmade things? Please share some of your favorites!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The ones in your path

A few weeks ago, I really needed help. I work hard to be an independent person, and to maintain that "illusion" of self-reliance, I avoid asking for help. But after a death in my family, I just couldn't do everything by myself. So I asked for help. And some of the people I asked said "no."

I was already feeling overly emotional and vulnerable, so having them turn me down felt worse than it normally would have. I ended up getting the help I needed from other people, but I still spent a few days playing poor me. "Why don't they care about me as much as I care about them?" I wondered. "If I was willing to drop everything for them, shouldn't they do the same for me?" And so on. The more I focused on what I hadn't gotten, the less I remembered what I had: other friends who stepped in to help me when I needed it.

I have thought a lot about this in the past weeks. I wonder if other people have that feeling when doing favors or asking for help from friends and family. I didn't think I was keeping score, but part of me must have been if I was so focused on getting what I needed from one or two particular people. Do we avoid giving help because we don't want certain people to "owe" us? And do we avoid asking for help because we don't want to feel indebted to them? Does it really matter who helps if we get help when we need it?

I guess I've been treating favors and "helping" kind of like putting money in the bank. If I made a deposit in a certain way with a certain person, I expected to get it back in kind. (And if I couldn't bring myself to say no to them, I expected they'd never say no to me, either!) But that's silly, and things don't work that way. Sometimes the people we help the most can't return the favor. Some people need a lot of help, and some — let's face it — just won't reciprocate. Sometimes they will say no. Maybe we shouldn't let that influence whether we say yes or no to them?

Maybe being helpful is more like an insurance policy, or like investing in good will. Maybe if all of us just help the people we can, when we can, there will be someone to help us when we need it? In her book Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, Chaplain Kate Braestrup says, "Love whoever needs what you have; love the ones who have been placed in your path.” The ones in your path may not be your family, or even your friends, but maybe that doesn't matter?

What do you think? Do you find it easy to help everyone you come in contact with, or do you save your favors for those closest to you? Do you have a hard time asking for help like I do? Please share your thoughts!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Apricot Freesia for Feedback Friday

It's Feedback Friday!

Feedback Friday is our way of sharing a fragrance or flavor you might not have tried before by offering a free sample that you can add to your next order. It's also a way for you to share your opinions if you've already tried it (or come back and share once you've received a sample).

This week we're doing something a little different. The fragrance we're featuring is totally new: Apricot Freesia. Apricot freesia pairs the juicy sweet fragrance of apricots with a spicy floral hint of freesia. We're planning to offer this fragrance as a Limited Edition for this spring (just in time for Mother's Day), but we want your opinion. Will you try some of our new Apricot Freesia and let us know what you think? Add some to your next order, then come back here and give us a yes or no — thumbs up or down — about adding this to our fragrance list for moms. That's it! Only this time there's more...

This time, if you participate in Feedback Friday, you will be entering to win a gift set for Mom (or yourself!). How do you enter?
1. Leave a comment below. (No purchase is necessary: you're free to vote yes or no for Apricot Freesia without trying it, or visit our site and let us know what you think would be a perfect gift for Mother's Day. Or add the sample to your cart, pay only for shipping, and try it for yourself!)
2. For an additional entry, you can tweet about this giveaway (only once a day, please).
3. You can also sign up for our newsletter.
Make sure you leave a comment below for each of your additional entries, too. Enter by April 9 at midnight EST; the winner of the gift set will be selected at random on April 10.

You're probably wondering what the Apricot Freesia sample is. It's been so warm and sunny here that I realized we're getting closer to sandals weather! To get your toes ready for their close-up, this week's sample is an Apricot Freesia Mini Pedi (see photo above). A full 6 ounce sugar scrub is joined by a .5 ounce sample of hand (or foot!) cream in the same fragrance. You can add a set to your next order by clicking here. One set per order, please.

The gift set giveaway is a Petite Spa Gift Tub in Apricot Freesia. This gift set includes sugar scrub, bath salts with wooden scoop, lotion, lip balm (in Apricot flavor), and pumice stone. We'll be wrapping up a set for one lucky winner on April 10. (And don't worry; if you gave Apricot Freesia the thumbs down, we'll let you choose another fragrance!)

Please let us know what you think of Apricot Freesia! And enter to win a gift set!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Ladybug Cookies

I'm no Martha, but I like to make stuff and I like to bake cookies. I've been making so many ladybug party favors lately I was dreaming about ladybugs! Last week I decided that I'd figure out how to make ladybug cookies. So here they are...and here's how you can make some, too.

I usually make sugar cookies from scratch, but you can use the pre-made dough if you prefer. Here's the recipe I used to make the dough:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange oil (or lemon oil)
3 cups flour
food color

Cream the butter, add sugar. Mix in eggs, vanilla, and citrus oils, then add food color. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients, then add to mixture. Mix until it makes a cohesive dough, then cover and chill dough for several hours or overnight.

If you're using the pre-made dough, you'll need to let it soften a bit and then add the food color. Knead it in until you have the desired color, then chill again until you're ready to roll out the cookies.

Once dough has chilled, lightly flour your surface and then roll out your dough to about 1/8" thickness. You don't need any special cookie cutters to make the ladybugs; here are the tools I used:

juice glass
measuring spoons

Cut out a bunch of circles with the juice glass. For half of the circles, you'll want to use the knife to cut them in half (see photo). And for each of the full circles you cut, you'll need to cut out a tiny half circle with the measuring spoon (I used the teaspoon...see photo lower left).

Place the cookie pieces on your baking sheet, making sure to leave space between them. The two half circles will be the wings, and the tiny half circle you cut out with the measuring spoon will be the ladybug's head. Place the tiny half circle so it overlaps the full circle a tiny bit, then gently pat the two pieces together so they look like the picture below right. Repeat for all the ladybugs.

Bake at 375° for 5 to 8 minutes, until they are just brown at the edges (see above). Let them cool on racks. Now you need to make the frosting! I used chocolate rather than using a black food coloring in regular frosting because hey, I love chocolate, but I also love the pink-and-brown theme. You can buy frosting, but if you want to make your own, cream 2 tablespoons of butter and add a cup of confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa. Beat until smooth, then add 2 tablespooons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Now you're ready to frost!

Each ladybug cookie needs to be frosted over the whole "body" and "head" (see below left). Then take two of the half circle "wings" and set them down on the frosting at an angle, with the tops touching just below the head (see below right).

Pipe or dab frosting dots on each wing, then add sprinkles or tiny candies for eyes. That's it!

The next time I do these, I'm going to add more red food color. These turned out a pretty peachy color, but to really get a deep pink, you need to start with a lot of food color in the dough.

I had fun making these (and my kids had fun eating them)! I think this would be a cute snack for a kids birthday party, or for a ladybug bridal shower or baby shower. Please let me know if you make these cookies! Share any comments below.

Related Recipes for Parties:
Spanikopita? I say "Mini Quiche"
Say Cheese(cake)! Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies
Spring Flowers Cupcakes

Monday, March 08, 2010

Word of the Week: Women

March 8 is International Women's Day. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the celebration of Women's Day this year: "On occasion of 2010 International Women's Day the International Committee of the Red Cross is drawing attention to the hardship displaced women endure. The displacement of populations is one of the gravest consequences of today's armed conflicts. It affects women in a host of ways.

"Women displaced by armed conflict – often living alone with their children – are frequently exposed to sexual violence, discrimination and intimidation. Many face poverty and social exclusion as well. International humanitarian law therefore includes specific provisions protecting women, for example when they are pregnant or as mothers of young children."

Last year I wrote about women's issues during Women's Self Empowerment Week. I wrote that "any 'celebration' should include appreciation and gratitude" and that this particular week we should "appreciate what we have and how far we've come, and be grateful that so many worked hard to make it possible." That's something else we should do on International Women's Day, too; but I think we should also work hard to make this good life possible for other women who are not as fortunate. Women for Women International is an organization that helps women to rebuild their lives when they've been displaced by war. Read more at their site to see how you can get involved in their Join me on the Bridge Campaign on March 8.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bride's Cake?

You've heard of the groom's's the bride's cake. Literally. Chidi Ogbuta, a bride from Texas, had a cake made in her likeness. And then served it to her guests. What do you think of this one? (photo and full article)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Have you planned your New Moon DVD Release Party?

We're in the process of planning a New Moon DVD release party for my daughter and her friends. Apparently we're not alone! We've been putting together Bella and Edward products this week. Check out these lotion sets with special tags just for the release party.

Remember, it's on March 20th. (Team Edward!)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Transparency and Safety in Products

Last week I wrote about the Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act. If it had become law, it would have prohibited the sale of makeup, shampoo, and other products containing even trace amounts of certain toxins. But it didn't become law, because on Monday it was voted down, mostly due to a lack of conclusive science to support it.

I think it's important to know what's in your personal care products. Of course my own product labels have all of those details, but my products' ingredients are online, too. If you have allergies or skin sensitivities, you need to know what's in products before you buy them. (And if you're like me, you probably just like to look at labels before you buy things.) I don't have anything to hide, and I think this blog has also been a great place to practice that transparency. I've talked about my ingredients here before, and about reformulations and how I sometimes reconsider ingredients and make changes. I do this for a lot of reasons, and I share them because I want you to know what goes into my products as well as how I make decisions about what goes into them.

Many small companies like my own started making products because they wanted an alternative to the products offered by the big companies. They might have had an allergy, or a skin condition, or a concern about ingredients that led them to look for other options. Legislation like the bills in Colorado and those proposed at the Federal level are an indication to me that lots of people are still concerned about what's out there and looking for those options. But laws that put lots of small companies out of business will not create the new options we're all looking for. Communicating about what we need or want in our products (and what we don't want), as well as discussion without fearmongering, is a better place to start.

I've tried to be really transparent here about what I do and what I'm aiming for with my products. In the coming months I'm going to talk even more about what's in my products and why those things are there. If you have any particular questions you'd like answered, please let me know. If you ever have a question, please call or email. I'm here to help!

Are you concerned about personal product safety? Do you feel that the products you use are safe? If so, what about them reassures you? If not, why do you think they aren't? What would make them safer? Please share your thoughts!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Word of the Week: Blooms

It's still gray here. We've had rain and snow in the past week. And it's March, so we can look forward to more of the same, then mud. Yuck.

I was desperate for some blooms this past week, and I'd read that you could force forsythia and other flowering shrubs if you brought them inside. So about a week ago I cut some branches, brought them in, and put them in a vase of warm water. The picture below left is what they looked like when I first cut them. The middle is how they looked a few days later. And the right is how they looked this morning.

In all, it took about a week for them to blossom. When I read about this the recommendation was to cut the branches on a day that was above freezing, put them in warm water, then re-cut them while holding them under the water. Then they recommended putting them in floral preservative. I took the quick and easy (lazy?) route by just cutting them and putting them in water. (I did cut them on a warm-ish day.) Probably it would work better to cut and re-cut them as recommended, but it DOES work to just cut and put in a vase.

Make sure you choose branches that have lots of buds on them. I cut several long branches and a few short ones for tiny arrangements. The burst of color is such a boost on a rainy day like today. If you're still a month away from a green and blooming yard, remember that you're only a week away from enjoying an indoor spring! Let me know if you try this and what types of plants you were able to force! Have fun!


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