Friday, September 30, 2011

Pink Kisses for the Cure

Pink Kisses Lip Balm
Last year we had a special Pink Cupcake balm that supported a great cause: $1 from the sale of each tube was donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

This year we have a new Limited Edition Pink Ribbon balm. Our Facebook friends voted and we're delighted to offer Pink Kisses, a cherry vanilla balm. Available through the month of October, Pink Kisses will also benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure through a $1 donation per balm.

Did you know that our Pink Lady lip balm and moisturizers help us to raise money for breast cancer awareness year round? We introduced Pink Lady in October—during Breast Cancer Awareness Month—several years ago. Thanks to you, we've donated hundreds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We plan to keep donating for the life of the product; we've set no time frame or maximum because we know that this diagnosis is a reality for tens of thousands every month of the year.

Thank you for your interest in our Pink Lady and Pink Kisses balms and products!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fresh Salsa

This week we'll be picking up the last of the fresh tomatoes at the CSA. Every year at this time I debate whether I should make them into sauce, chop them into a salad, maybe make a soup? Since I also have some CSA onions, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro, I think salsa is on the menu this week.

Fresh Salsa
• 3 medium-sized fresh tomatoes, diced (we used some yellow heirloom tomatoes a few weeks ago and loved the contrasting color)
• 1/4 cup diced onion
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 jalapeño, finely diced (scoop out the ribs and seeds)
• 1 chili (serrano or other) pepper, diced (also remove ribs and seeds)
• 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (use more if desired)
• juice of a lime
• 1-2 Tbsp vinegar (Optional—this is a taste thing, and sometimes the lime is enough "sour.")
• 1/4 tsp oregano
• salt and pepper to taste

Chop, mince, and combine all ingredients. (I also have to process mine in a blender so my kids get past the "chunkies" but this is up to you.) The flavors are even better if you refrigerate the salsa for a few hours before serving. It's amazing the next day, too, if it lasts that long. Great with chips (of course) but also try serving with Mexican lasagna or vegetarian tacos.

What do you think? What's your favorite way to eat fresh tomatoes?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's New with Lip Balm Tubes

I did an informal poll on Facebook recently and more than 80% of responding friends said they prefer lip balm tubes to jars. (If you'd like to lend your voice, you're welcome to vote here.)

I'm not surprised by this. Tubes are a convenient size and shape, more sanitary (keep your fingers clean), easy to tuck into a pocket...what's not to love? A couple months ago (well, maybe it was longer than that—thank you for your patience!) several of my excellent customers were kind enough to point out a real problem with my website: it was nearly impossible to find the tube balms. They were so right about that, and I promised to do something about it. I'm almost finished putting together a new page that's all about lip balm tubes: standard flavors, Limited Editions, and lip balm sets. I'd love to know what you think!

Lately I've been a little wishy-washy about lip balm tube shrink bands (a fascinating topic, right? I promise there's a point...). Our original bands had perforations down the side, which worked perfectly for preventing tampering. But then I found another kind, one that had the perforation around the cap. We used those for a while with great results, then ordered the lengthwise perforation wraps by accident. Gah! Never again!

All new balms will be wrapped with bands that are perforated just along the base of the cap (see photo), and here's why: if you remove the shrink wrap gently along that perforation and leave the bottom wrapped, the shrink band will protect your label and keep it looking pretty longer! Look for the new wraps the next time you order a tube balm. And let me know what you think of the tubes page!

So what's YOUR preference: tube or jar?

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Party Planning

You may not think I understand, but I do.

My kids are 13 and 11 now, but a long time ago they were little and we planned elaborate parties with brightly colored frosted confections and party hats and very long guest lists. These things happened so long ago I had almost forgotten them, but recently I found something I had written on my daughter's fourth birthday. I didn't have a blog then, and with two- and four-year-olds I rarely found time to write anything. I think I really wanted to remember this one.

July 24, 2002 6:45 pm I prepare to go to the store.
Bronwyn appears and starts to beg. "I want to go with you to the store!"
"I have to pick up some things for your party," I explain.
"But I want to help!" she pleads.
"No, I need to get some surprises. Stay here with Dada," I reply.
Her two-year-old brother catches the whining bug. "Me! Me! Me!" he screams, pointing at the car.
I get into the car and wave good-bye to two crying, hysterical children.

7:30 pm
I'm back home with birthday gifts and party provisions. Kids are at the neighbor's with their dad so I can empty the car. While getting the items into the office, the birthday girl runs back into the house. I just about get things hidden before she is there, bouncing excitedly.

"Let me see! Let me see!" she yells.
I gently shoo her out of the office, explaining that she'll have to wait. She starts crying. "I want to see my birthday presents!" she wails.

7:45 - 8:00 pm
I wrap presents in my office while my child pounds on the locked door. And sobs.
"What did you get me?" she asks repeatedly. "What are you wrapping in there?"

8:00 - 8:45
I abandon the wrapping and lock the office so I can help with the bedtime routine. Non-stop birthday talk continues: "I want to see my presents" becomes accusations: "You didn't get me anything." Then, impatience: "I want my birthday to be today." And attempts at reverse psychology: "I don't want a birthday." Rounded off with denial: "It's not really my birthday." And absolute falsehood: "I don't want a cake."

Exhaustion follows. And the kids are pretty tired, too. They eat some snacks, brush their teeth, go to bed.

I don't have a clear memory of the actual day, but we have some pictures and there were smiles, so it appears that it all worked out.

Not every birthday was like this, of course. And of course I don't mean to imply that your children are anywhere near as neurotic and obnoxious as mine. But when I'm talking with someone about party favors and they ask, "How hard are they to assemble?" and I say, "Oh, I'll assemble them for you before they're shipped," and there's an audible sigh of relief on the other side of the phone, I know what you're thinking. And now you know what I'm thinking. You know why I GET IT.

(Also? I'm secretly delighted to save you from tying 45 bows on balms while your child wails, "What are you doing in there?" outside the door.)

What's your favorite party planning memory? Do you enjoy putting together the details of your kids' parties, or do you recruit friends and family to help?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

7 Ways To Get Through Tough Days

Even if you're trying to do everything right, there are some days that are just more challenging from the beginning. I'm guessing you've had those days, too.

Maybe you meant to get to sleep early but that show was on or the kids were sick or you just had to play Mafia Wars a little longer. Perhaps you went to bed at the right time but tomorrow's to-do wouldn't leave you alone. Or maybe a change in the seasons is leaving you feeling drained (my personal excuse this week). Whatever the reason, the day has just started and it's already kicking your butt. Now what?

1. Prioritize. Make a list of the things you absolutely, positively must get done today or the world will end. If you have five things, get rid of two of them. And then get your three things finished first. If you're starting the day feeling less than 100%, how do you think you'll feel in the afternoon? Do the important stuff first.

2. No chatting. I don't care if you are supposed to tweet three times a day or post to your Facebook wall every six hours or check in with colleagues at your networking site. Social media is a time suck on the best of days, but when you're already dragging, it's deadly. Just don't go there.

3. Break it up. It's 9 am and you have three big loooong hours before lunch. Get out the egg timer. Yeah, I'm serious. Set it to 25 minutes, pick the first item on your list, and go. When the timer rings, take a five minute break and then start again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

4. Stay hydrated. And by that I do not mean Diet Coke. Sure, caffeine makes you feel more alert, but it's also dehydrating. Dehydration can make you feel more sluggish and can lead to headaches, resulting in an even more challenging afternoon. Make sure to visit the water cooler during your timed breaks and keep sipping.

5. Avoid sugar. Let's talk about sugar, shall we? Most of us have a complicated relationship with sugar. It's like breaking up with that high school boyfriend and then running into him everywhere. "Give me another chance!" he pleads, "I promise it'll be different this time! I won't let you down again." You know better, but he's so sweet you let him back in. For a while you'll feel great! You're on Cloud 9! You're invincible! The "King of the World!" Then, just like you knew he would, he'll dump you and you'll crash and burn. Don't do it. Just don't. Snack when you need a boost, but make sure it's not refined sugar. Try fruit and cheese, a handful of nuts, crackers with peanut butter. They won't leave you stranded without a date to the prom. Er...I mean, the energy to finish your day.

6. Power Nap. Sometimes a siesta is just what the doctor ordered. Keep that timer around and set aside part of your lunch break for a little snooze. Aim for about 20 minutes; longer than 30 and you may enter a sleep phase that will leave you feeling more groggy when you get up.

7. Choose your reward. You're in the home stretch now, so give yourself something to look forward to. Make plans with a friend for dinner. Treat yourself to your favorite take-out for making it through a tough day. Or check out that new movie you've been dying to see. Just make sure you're home early so you can rest up for another big day tomorrow!

What about you? What do you do when you're having a tough day?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

More Autumn Theme Favors

Last week I posted about the new designs I've just added to help you celebrate Autumn Theme events. I promised that the new tags were on the way, and they're finally available!

I'd love to work with you on your fall bridal showers or girls nights out, so please let me know how I can help you with your event!

(And check out our new Autumn Designs here!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

No Fuss Florals

This summer instead of filling my garden with veggies, I planted about half of it with flowers. I've found that planting flowers here and there never gave me enough blooms to cut and share, so I started planting rows of them. Right now the zinnias are blossoming like crazy, and the cosmos and sunflowers are up over my head! I'm enjoying my flowers outside AND in.

I shared a project for making your own ikebana vase last year, but you don't need special vases for your flowers. I use containers and glasses that I already have around the house.
Press a small piece of floral foam into a goblet or hurricane glass, then arrange a row of foliage (like these cosmos stems and leaves) just inside and drape them over the rim. Trim flower stems short and arrange into a rounded bouquet shape. I've used all cosmos in several colors, but you can use just one color or tuck in another type of flower.

A decorative galvanized pail is the base of this simple arrangement. Cut Gaillardia blossoms just long enough to peek over the edge. If your container is not water tight, place a plastic dish or lining inside.You don't even need a lot of flowers to make a pretty arrangement. A handful of zinnias and a row of shot glasses filled with pebbles will make a bright spot on your window sill.

What's your favorite way to enjoy cut flowers?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Out of the Box or In?

Last week I spent some time cleaning my house, which means lots of extra boxes. And boxes must always be inspected. Meet Inspector Nardo.

Nardo (short for Leonardo—the painter, not the actor) spent a good ten minutes digging at the closed flaps of this box before they yielded to his persistence. As I watched him, it seemed strange to me that anyone would expend so much effort getting INTO a box. I mean, hasn't he heard all of that advice about boxes and the importance of being (and thinking) outside of them?

Of course he's a cat and none of that advice is literally about boxes, but it occurred to me that I'm not much different. When new "boxes" appear (think of Facebook), I'm right there digging away at the flaps, trying to get in. Everyone else is in there, so it seems like the thing I'm supposed to do. Once we're all inside, we even do the same things that Nardo does: we poke around, digging into each corner to see what's there. We leave nothing untouched, and once we're satisfied that we've seen it all, we make ourselves a comfy spot and settle in. Until the next box comes along (hello, Google+) and we start all over again.

Social media isn't the only place that this happens. Think about fashion, or anything that's trendy. If you have a business, think of the "new" products that your competitors come up with...and how quickly everyone else comes up with their version. Just like Nardo, we think we're missing something if we're not in the "boxes" with everyone else. And just like Nardo, we're hot to abandon one box if a new one comes along.

But I watched Nardo for a bit longer that afternoon, and I've decided that he's way ahead of me. After digging so hard to get inside, he spent all of five minutes in this particular box. It was full of Legos, so it wasn't a good fit for him. After an afternoon of poking around in the other boxes, he made his way back to his bed, a spot near the window where he can keep an eye on his yard, his people, and his food dish: all of the essentials. Nardo checks out the boxes, but always goes back to what works best for him (which, notably, is out of the box). I think I'll try to remember that next time.

Is it important to follow what other people are doing? Or is it better to make your own way? Maybe a combination works best? What do you think?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Will Not Forget

(This post originally ran on September 11, 2009. It feels right to share it again today.)

It was a Tuesday morning, and I was running errands with my kids. We were in the bank just before 9 am, and the tellers were all abuzz over the news. Some little plane had flown into the World Trade Center, my teller told me. They'd heard it on the radio. I dropped my errands and went straight home, turning on the TV in time to see Flight 175 hit the South Tower.

Of course, it wasn't a small plane, and it wasn't an accident as they had first assumed. I spent the day watching the coverage, knowing the world was changing. I had visited the World Trade Center with my cousin Kim during a high school trip. We had gone up to the observation deck in the South Tower, on the 107th floor. I remembered what it felt like to lean in toward the glass and look down, that awful feeling I got in the bottom of my stomach. How much sicker I felt watching the coverage, hearing that people chose to jump rather than burn. What a desperate choice. What a strange feeling to know that I'd been there, I'd visited a place that didn't even exist anymore.

I worried about Kim, knowing she lived in the city, not knowing where she was working, how far away she was, if she was safe. Another of my cousins was living and working in DC at the time, so it was a pretty tense time until we knew they were safe. Then we started worrying for everyone else: those people who waited, thinking they'd be rescued. People who still needed rescuing. The heroic firefighters and paramedics who rushed in and never came out. Did you know that 411 emergency workers were among the dead? I don't think I ever knew the number.

The thing that stands out to me most about that trip to the observation deck was waiting in line. We waited for what seemed like hours, in a roped off area that zigzagged across the lobby. We were surrounded by people of every ethnicity, from many countries, all speaking different languages. Coming from a less-than-multicultural state and community, to me this was noteworthy. It felt like a place where people coexisted peacefully, where there might not always be understanding but there was tolerance. It seemed like my ideal of being an American, the whole "melting pot" thing; how could you experience such diversity, look out at the Statue of Liberty, and not feel that? After 9/11 it didn't surprise me to read that citizens from over 90 countries died in the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings. It saddened me to think of that place as a target of someone's hatred. We lost a lot that day.

Every year I think how much things have changed since it happened. I think about the people who died and I send good thoughts to those who survived and who lost family and friends. Not long ago I read about those who were exposed to ground zero and how they had lingering problems with asthma and post-traumatic stress disorder for years afterward. I think all of us are still traumatized by this. I don't think anyone who was there--or who watched from afar--will forget it.

Do you remember what you were doing on 9/11? What went through your mind? I've heard people talking about making this day a national holiday--what are your thoughts?

Friday, September 09, 2011

New Autumn Theme Favors

I realized not too long ago that I had NO designs for Autumn theme lip balm labels. None at all. Tags, yes (though I'm in the process of updating these). But for those of you who like to get just the balms, no bags or tags or wrapping, there were no options.

Until today. Now if you're interested in favors for bridal showers or bachelorette parties and you want fall colors and designs to go along with your favorite autumn flavors...they're here!

You'll recognize some of the designs, though we've added warm fall colors and some more contemporary fonts. I really hope you find something you like here, but as always I can customize the designs and colors to match your event's theme. Don't hesitate to call and let me know what you're working on! I really enjoy collaborating with you to make your favors extra special.

What about tags to match some of these new labels? And a way to order favors with the new labels AND tags? They're coming as soon as I can get them posted (hopefully later this weekend). I'll let you know here as soon as they're ready! And if you're someone who prefers lip balm tubes instead of the jars we have pictured here, I can make those, too! Just send me an email or call for more information.

I'd love to know what you think! Have I missed anything? What are your favorite Fall colors and flavors?

Happy Autumn!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Labor Day Schedule

We will be closed for Labor Day weekend
from Friday, September 2 through Monday, September 5.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

We're featured at The Mineral Makeup Coach Blog!

I was really excited to be featured at The Mineral Makeup Coach Blog today! Kelley Maddison is the formulator of PRIIA Natural Mineral Cosmetics, and her blog offers so much great information about skin care, cosmetic ingredients, beauty myths, and of course, mineral makeup! I really recommend it!

You may remember that Kelley has been a guest here before, answering questions about wedding makeup and how to protect your skin from the sun. I also did a review of my favorite PRIIA Cosmetics.

Thank you, Kelley! I really enjoyed talking with you about GCDSpa!


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