Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Few New Features

I just wanted to share some news with you! Last week we were honored to be featured at Donna Maria's Indie Business Blog. In a blog post discussing HR 5297: The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act, Donna Maria explains why this law won't help truly small businesses (like mine) and uses details of my business as an example. (She also shares a photo of the custom branded balms I created for her last week. I was delighted to mix up a special Indie Cranberry Spice flavor just for her, featuring her photo and logo!)

While HR 5297 will surely help some businesses if it passes (it has passed the House and Senate and was presented to President Obama last week), I agree with Donna Maria that the
"definition of small has changed, and our government policies must now change with it." I hope that legislators will start to be more aware of the unique business needs of the VERY small (read: micro) businesses in the U.S.

I was also excited to have products featured at The Indie Bride last week. Kiss Single Life Goodbye is one of our most popular theme choices lately for bachelorette party favors. This theme was the Wedding Inspiration last Monday at The Indie Bride, and included our Blushing Bride and Happily Ever After lip balm set. Two balms are tucked into this sweetly smoochy change purse created especially for us by Dungaree Dolly's.

Check out the other pretty pout products featured at The Indie Bride! (And do consider this theme if you have to plan a bachelorette party!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Word of the Week: Moving

I had planned to announce my official moving date today because we're getting so close to finishing. There are only a few things left to be done in the renovated space, but I'm not completely sure about the timing. So rather than being official, I'm going to guess and then change if necessary.

Here's how I imagine this working: I'm moving across my driveway, which at first seemed like an insanely easy move. And it is, but I realized over the weekend that I still need to pack my smallish lab/office and 4+ closets full of supplies, move big desks and lab benches, then unpack and organize the new lab and office. So the plan was to close down on Friday of this week (Oct. 1) and reopen on October 12. That should give us enough time. I hope. (Of course that will all depend on the other players, so I may be changing these dates.)

During the time we're closed, I'll still accept orders at the site, and I'll still be responding to phone inquiries during (limited) office hours. Any orders placed during that time will begin shipping on the 12th, so if you are planning for a mid- or late-October event, please let me know right away.

I have held off on showing more pictures just because I want you to see it finished (though you can see the outside in last week's Wordless Wednesday). I can hardly believe we're at the end. It's a beautiful office. And I can admit this now: I'm really, REALLY excited about it! It is going to change my work life so much, but this space also gives us back our home. It's been a long process, and not without its stresses, but the end result is all good.

I'll let you know if these closing/reopening dates change, but this is The Plan for now. Thanks so much for putting up with my talk about this renovation. And thank you for showing interest and asking me about it! Can't wait to give you the Grand Tour!

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Pumpkin Pie

At the beginning of September we had a Feedback Friday for Pumpkin Pie. We offered this spicy pumpkin fragrance and flavor at 10% off, and included a sample of Pumpkin Pie lip balm. We're continuing to offer this fragrance and flavor at a discount through the end of September, and for this last week we're including a sample of Pumpkin Pie lotion with every order!

To get 10% off all Pumpkin Pie products, simply shop at gcdspa.com for Pumpkin Pie:
hand creams
bath gel (with orange jojoba spheres for gentle exfoliation)
sugar scrub (also with orange jojoba spheres)
bath salts
• lip balm - tubes and jars

Of course, we'd still love it if you came back here to tell us what you think! (Please feel free to share your opinions below if you've already tried Pumpkin Pie.) Thank you for your interest!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Maple Pecan Popcorn

When I was a kid I never went trick-or-treating. (You can all say "awww" now.) It just wasn't something we did. Instead, we'd visit my grandparents, and the special treat my Nana made every year was her own version of "Cracker Jack" popcorn. Halloween just isn't the same to me without it. (I'm so fond of it, I even made a Caramel Corn lip balm this fall!)

I have my grandmother's recipe, but of course it never tastes as good when I make it. This year I decided to change it up and make a different kind of caramel popcorn, just for grown-ups. It's still sticky sweet, but with a subtle maple flavor and pecans instead of peanuts. Here's how it's done:

Pop 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels. I use a hot air popper, but you can use microwave popcorn, too. (Try to choose a variety with minimal flavoring.) It will take 2 to 3 microwave bags to get the right quantity—you'll want about 5 quarts of popped popcorn. Spread the popcorn in a roasting pan and add 1 cup of pecans.

For the maple caramel coating, you'll need:

1 stick butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup (the real stuff!)
1/3 cup corn syrup

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add sugar and syrups, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and add:
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt (may omit if using salted popcorn)
1/4 tsp baking soda

Stir caramel mixture, then pour over popped corn and nuts, stirring to coat. To get an even coating, I add half of the caramel, stir well, then add the remainder and stir.

Bake popcorn in the oven for 1 hour at 250°, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then store in a sealed container.

Have you ever made caramel popcorn? Do you use peanuts, or some other type of nut? Different flavorings? I'd love to hear about other variations! Please share your ideas!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Word of the Week: Try

Our construction project is winding down (yay!), but there are still a few smaller jobs that we're doing ourselves. Some of these are things I have some experience with, such as painting. But when we decided to put down all of the flooring ourselves, I wondered if we were in over our heads. Could we do it? Should we even try?

Yesterday we finished putting a vinyl floor into the new bathroom. We'd never put in a sub-floor, created a template, or cut vinyl before. But with all the right tools, some advice from friends and a few books, we did it. I know it seems silly to be excited about a floor. But when you try something, even if you don't succeed you gain skills and confidence that make things easier the next time.

Try and fail, but don't fail to try. ~Stephen Kaggwa

I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying. ~Tom Hopkins

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? ~Vincent van Gogh

What new things are you planning to try? What's been stopping you? Please share your thoughts!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Business News Daily on SCA 2010

Earlier this week Business News Daily did a piece on the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. The article dealt specifically with the ways that this new law would impact small cosmetics companies. I was happy to be able to share my story with reporter Amy Byrnes; also quoted were Donna Maria Coles Johnson of the Indie Beauty Network, Kristin Fraser Cotte from The Grapeseed Company, and Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramble Berry. If you're interested, you can read the article here--and please let me know what you think!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Word of the Week: Where

A few weeks ago I saw a map pendant like this one on Maine Days Designs' Facebook page and immediately wanted my own. I knew the where right away: a little Maine town called Morrill that lives in my memory as an idyllic place with pine groves and haymows and baby goats. All of us carry places with us; Maine Days Designs has given us another way to do it.

Each glass tile pendant is a 1 inch square of hand cut glass. The image is sealed with a glaze, and a silver bail is attached at the top so you can wear with your own chain (not included). My first where was my childhood home, but I can see my collection growing. I also see these as nostalgic gifts. Talking about the where brings back memories of the who and the when and the what. Where did you meet? Where did he propose? Where did you honeymoon? Just imagine the gifting possibilities!

Kate has lots of pendants featuring Maine locations at her Etsy shop, but she also takes custom orders, so contact her to see if she can make a pendant of your special place. You can also see more photos of her work (she creates other jewelry including rings, bracelets, earrings, and other pendant designs) on her Facebook page.

Full disclosure: I purchased this item at the quoted price and was not compensated for my review. My opinions are my own!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Tricks, Just Treats

For years my daughter's favorite holiday was Halloween. She and her dad would plan out the spooky decorations and yard displays weeks in advance; of course the details of her costume were decided months before that! Even Christmas wasn't as much fun for her. She always explained that it was the "costumes and the candy" that made it the best.

I find that every fall I look forward to coming up with new seasonal "treats" and fun ways to dress them up, so I guess it's all about the candy and costumes for me, too! Last fall I introduced a Limited Edition Caramel Apple lip balm. This year I planned to replace it with a few new flavors, but I really just like Caramel Apple so much I decided to bring it back along with all the other old and new seasonal flavors. Hey, more is better!

For Fall 2010 we've added Caramel Corn (imagine sweet vanilla caramel coating buttery, salty popcorn) and Ginger Pear, a juicy balm with a hint of spice. For a limited time, you can also get Candy Corn, Maple, Black Licorice, Apple Spice, Cranberry, and Pumpkin Pie lip balms. (These flavors are available year-round, but in the off-season we require a minimum order of 10, so this would be the time to try all of them!)

Last year we also offered a special Jack-o-Lantern balm in a black jar, and for the first time, a Jack-o-Lantern lotion also in a black bottle! We have a limited quantity of these special sets available this year, too. Jack-o-Lantern is a spicy pumpkin fragrance and flavor, and you can almost taste (and smell) the buttery crust and sweet whipped cream on top. We dress the sets up with a gift tag and bow, so it makes a cute gift (if you can part with it!). This is one I miss all year, so I'm really happy to be able to offer it again for this fall.

We have lots of other seasonal treats and gifts, including Halloween party favors and Pumpkin Pie goodies (which are still 10% off, since this was our last Feedback Friday product). And we're always looking for new ideas for seasonal "flavorites" so don't hesitate to share your thoughts! What am I missing? What are YOUR favorite flavors and fragrances for fall?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Word of the Week: Share

My parents have these beautiful asters growing in their garden this summer, and we've picked several bouquets to bring home. As I was looking at this recent bunch, I got thinking about how nice it is to share. I like to share stuff from my garden, too, but that's not the only thing you can share.

1. Share something you know. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know something useful. If you're reading this, you know how to use a computer. Do you know someone who's trying to learn? Offer to help them. Think about other things you know how to do. If you're crafty, share your techniques with a friend. Do you know how to bake a perfect angel food cake? Pass that recipe along.

2. Share your time. All of us are pressed for time, but sometimes this is all that other people need. Kids definitely need a lot of time, even more than they need the latest toys and stuff. Set aside some time to share: play a game with your kids, visit with a sick friend, catch up on the phone. Sharing time with people lets them know they're important to you!

3. Share something you have. Along with everything else I grow in my garden, flowers are fun to share. What I've noticed is that if I keep my flowers to myself, they bloom and die pretty quickly in the garden. If I cut them and share them, the plants make more and more. They're meant to be shared, like lots of what we have.

What do you like to share? Do you have any other ideas for sharing?

There is no delight in owning anything unshared. ~Seneca

Friday, September 03, 2010

Feedback Friday is Pumpkin Pie

I am so excited about this week's Feedback Friday fragrance and flavor! (In case you're just joining us, Feedback Friday is when we feature one of our fragrances or flavors with an invitation to share your opinions below. If you haven't tried the featured product, we make it easier by offering a sample that you can add to your next order.)

I enjoyed Pumpkin Pie so much last fall that it was hard to stop making it when the holidays were over. I even made up a few hand creams and lotions this summer for customers who just couldn't wait for autumn! I'm happy to report that it's baaaack!

Pumpkin Pie is a deliciously spicy pumpkin fragrance with a hint of buttery crust. The matching lip balm is one of my favorites; if you like a spicy balm, you'll LOVE this one. It's cinnamon-y without the burn that some spicy lip balms have. Enjoy a tube of this flavor as the Feedback Friday sample this week: every order placed this week will automatically get a Pumpkin Pie balm! We're also happy to offer 10% off all Pumpkin Pie products this week. You can find Pumpkin Pie in:

hand creams
bath gel (with orange jojoba spheres for gentle exfoliation)
sugar scrub (also with orange jojoba spheres)
bath salts
• lip balm - tubes and jars

We'd love it if you came back here to tell us what you think! (And if you've already tried Pumpkin Pie, please feel free to share your opinions below.) Thank you for your interest!

You may be interested in these other Feedback Friday posts:
Lemon Blueberry
Green Clover & Aloe
Apricot Freesia
Sweetini Spa
Lip Balm Tubes
Maine Woodland Berry
Coconut Twist

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Another Guest Post at Personal Care Truth!

I am excited that my post List is Just a Four-Letter Word was shared today at the Personal Care Truth web site. This week's reading at PCT also included a guest post called Do Chemicals in Cosmetics Accumulate in Your Body? Cosmetic scientist Colin Sanders addressed the issue of skin permeability and also touched on potential environmental impacts of cosmetic ingredients. There was also a piece by Robert Tisserand clearly describing what happens when you adopt a Zero Tolerance policy toward product ingredients.

I always learn something new when I visit PCT. They feature experts from every area of the cosmetics and personal care industry—worth a look if you have any questions at all about the science behind beauty products. I'm really honored to participate with this guest post!


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