Thursday, December 1, 2011

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

Wow! Where has the time gone? I see my last post was at the end of September! Two months gone in the blink of an eye.

So what have I been up too these past couple of months? Oh if flies could talk!

I went into heavy soap production after the boys went back to school in an attempt to get a jump start on the Fall craft show season and Holiday shopping. I managed one Fall art event this season.



It's a good thing I have a good work crew!! They are great at helping me load in and out and you can see the boys did some fall decorating for me too.

But all that got quickly put aside. Instead I turned my extra focus on family. My father in law was diagnosed with a 4th brain tumor in September and that put a pressing need for us to all be together as much as possible. Our weekends were spent with Grandpa, helping the boys make some lasting memories. Sadly he lost the battle shortly before Thanksgiving, 3 and a half years to the date after his first diagnosis. We are so thankful for those years and blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing family and group friends to get us through such a difficult season.



Just barely a week before my Granddad passed away suddenly of a heart attack. That took a greater toll on me than I thought it would. Needless to say, I've been a state of grieving for awhile.

But even in the midst of this loss there is joy. My sister brought her fourth healthy, beautiful baby girl into our lives mid-September. She looks so much like her sisters and I can't believe how much she grows between visits.

The boys had a fun soccer season and are looking forward to the upcoming basketball season.



Before September had made it's exit, our family found out it will be growing as well. We are so pleased to announce we are expecting another bundle in June. I've been very blessed to NOT be sick this go round, although I am beyond exhausted most days. Guess my body thinks it is older and is being temperamental!! I've been spending my time sleeping and eating and sleeping and trying to clean out my spare room so this little one has a room. I've not been very successful with the latter, but it will get done eventually.

The boys are beyond excited. Our oldest wants a sister because he already has a little brother. Our youngest wants a brother so he can be like his older brother. I love them so much. Ultimately, we just want a healthy baby and don't care one way or the other.

While it is bitter sweet, with this news I have decided to temporarily stop soap production. Even using all the safety precautions, I still feel it is in the best interest of my wee babe to keep away from most of the chemicals I encounter during production. While my darling husband offered to help me make some things, he really doesn't have the time to go all out. In all honesty, I'm just tired from pregnancy and tired from all the events going on in our lives. I want to be making soap when I'm happy and able to give it my all so you are getting the best products possible.

I do still have a decent inventory, so I can send out things for sure until the end of the year. If there is anything that you can't live without snatch it up now, because it may be awhile before it is available again. Please use the following code at checkout: BabyBeJoy to receive a year-end discount for your stocking up or your stocking stuffers and my clearing out.

When will I be back to work? Time will tell. I hope to be back at it by the end of next year, but it hasn't been so long that I don't remember what it is like to have a needy baby in the house. And as always, my philosophy is family and kids first and foremost. They grow up way to fast as it is and I don't want to miss a moment.Link

Friday, September 30, 2011

Finding Stability and Balance - A DIY tale of a soapers dilemma

In this house I make meals and raise children and run a business. One of the most difficult daily tasks is fitting it all in this space that is ours. There has to be a place for toys and food, people and soap.

If you look around you might think that soap is winning the battle for space. As I grow and create new products it becomes more daunting. One of the spaces I use is for curing soap. It's not fancy...purchased metal racks stacked one on the other and I can store about 8-10 batches at one time. If I time my soap making properly, that works out great. I've been using lined cardboard flats to transfer the soap from the cutting station to the drying rack.



If you are a soap maker you are familiar with the phenomenon of the dented bar. This happens to me frequently and last week as a took a cured batch down to box and label several bars took a tumble from my totally unstable transport tray. I knew I had to find something better.



I know many soap makers use the bakers racks used in professional bakeries to hold baked goodies. I have neither the space nor the disposable cash flow for one of those lovely pieces of furniture. So I headed out the garage and devised something smaller and more affordable that would accommodate my typical amount of curing bars.





With some scrap lumber and some cafeteria trays I found on-line, I spent less than $20 on a stable curing rack. I purchased several extra trays to use on the old rack that is still standing. When my arm is healed from the hand saw (remember--I'm not allowed to use power tools!!) I think I'll make a second one. Room for more soap and with any luck...fewer dented bars.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just Breathing

Funny how little events can have a huge impact on your thinking and how your attitudes in situations can make or break you as a person and a business woman.

This week I was reminded of several things that can help shape the outcome of any situation.

1) It pays to breathe. Breathe before I react, before I OVER-react. Taking time to get my mental bearings before I speak or write allows me to process the situation fully and allows me to approach it from a calm and respectful manner.

2)
I am fallible. Horribly, awfully, humanly fallible. I forget things....easily. In my forgetfulness I am easily irritated, accusatory even. This also happens when I am not fully awake and haven't had breakfast, but that is another story.

This leads to a third reminder.

3)
I am in need of a better way to track the things I need to do on a daily and weekly basis. I need a better way of keeping track of the things I randomly volunteer my time or my business to....so I'm not reminded of the above.

And finally,

4)
To breathe. Yes, just breathe again. Life is too short to stress those little things. Breathing makes me a nicer person and I hope that niceness reflects out into my business.

This is me, breathing.....




Please take a look at this new web site dedicated to promoting unique handmade and vintage gift giving. Thank you Tim Adam of Handmadeology and Timothy Adam Designs for the opportunity to be a part of the "ground breaking" of Hey Handmade! I think Tim must do alot of breathing because he is super nice and a superior businessman.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Autumn Arrival

I think it is here. Fall, that is. It's official...I donned my first pair of jeans for the season and am contemplating shoes.

I don't know about you, but Fall is really one of my favorite seasons (other than the part about wearing shoes...and for a shoe fanatic, that is saying alot!). I love the crispness in the air, the change of colors, leaf piles, bon fires, hay rides, hot teas, baking smells wafting from the kitchen, and yes, pink fluffies!


And while I'm about to tuck my not so perfectly manicured toes away into fuzzy socks and pink slippers and ankle boots, I still want my feet to feel soft. I want them to be free from the dryness and scale left by a summer of barefoot trips down hot pavement and across drying grasses struggling to survive in summer's end.

With this in mind I've reintroduced my Sandal Feet Pumice Soap Bar. Sandal Feet Bars are packed with clay and pumice for extra cleansing and a good scrub on heels and summer callouses. It now comes in two scents, Tea Tree Mint and Lavender NEW!. Both are fabulous paired up with my solid lotion sticks, which are available in both scents as well.





Don't neglect those feet even though they are hidden away for the winter. Keep them soft and clean with a little pampering now and then.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Just Killin' Time

School started and I thought I'd have all this time to get things done that I wanted to do...namely business things. Making soap was a high priority. Instead I have been playing taxi driver and doing some volunteer work, which are good in their own respects.

Just when I was getting time to work again, I ran out of a crucial ingredient soap ingredient. This is life. I knew I was out and ordered more just two days before the bucket was empty and then the wait is dreadful when I have these projects tumbling around in my brain.

What do I do while I wait? Tear something up!

I had this dream a few days ago that I painted our kitchen cabinets in this fun lime green with a white overlay. In my dream they were fabulous, fun, and funky! This is what I get from reading craft blogs. Waking....I thought better...but decided to apply this "dream" to my bathroom vanity cabinet. I mean really, they are boring (or so I told myself) and just a standard builder placed cabinet...so what is the harm?


See, these are boring. They do have some awesome wood grain though.

After reading a few tutorials on white-wash paint technique and a few crafty blogs, I took paint in hand and a few power tools (I'm not really allowed to use those-don't ask-all I can say is that last week I was cleaning windows and fell out of the patio chair I was standing on. My track record isn't good). My poor husband just shakes his head as I ban him from the bathroom.


Two stages of the painting.

This took a little trial and error. I did the cabinet part twice to get the right look.





Notice how I cleaned. The base boards even got treated.

Well, there they are. I even got the doors back on straight! It looks so fresh in there now.

My husband was very relieved that my supplies arrived. You'll be happy to know I've used them.

Secretly I want to put up bead board in there too. Guess next time I'm out of soaping materials I'll tackle that one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to School Craft Tutorial

Well, it's here...the buzz of school starting and packing lunches and running kids to soccer practice. I can't say I'm as excited as the boys, but glad they are thrilled to be learning (or seeing their friends!). I was even good, only snapped a few pictures and didn't require anyone to hug me before I left them at their desks yesterday.



Sending them back to school also means me pampering the teachers with things they need for the classroom and things to let them know how much I appreciate them taking my bundles under their wing and loving them almost as hard I as do!

We filled a basket for each teacher with dry eraser markers, pens, sticky notes, binder clips, and of course some bath and body products. This year I might have went a little over board, but when I saw this project I HAD to make it.

The inspiration for this project came from Ana White Homemaker blog (a new favorite crafty place that I frequent). I made a few tweeks so I could use what I had on hand.

Here's what I did.

What you need:
1- large wooden paint stick (we got ours free at Home Depot from our fence painting project)
2- 6" jumbo clothes pins
various scrapbook papers
decoupage glue (we used Mod Podge from Michael's)
large paint brush or foam brush
drill with bits
2-1" wood screws

Cut your scrap book paper to fit the tops of the jumbo pins and the paint stick. I had to piece the one for the paint stick, but that was ok because it will be covered by the pins later (just be sure to put the seam under where the pin will be). I also made some coordinating small pins for desktop use while I was at it.


Follow the instructions for your glue to adhere the paper to the pins and the stick. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Drill a hole in the top of the stick large enough to have it hang by a nail or screw. You can smooth the roughness with a bit of sand paper.



Now, with your pins face down, lie the stick on top also face down, lining up the pins with edges of the stick and far enough apart a sheet of paper can fit between. Hold in place and drill a small pilot hole (smaller than your screw) through the stick and into the thick part of the pin. Screw the pins to the stick from the back.

DONE!



Now you have a place to clip all your notes.

I'm going to be making the yard stick version for our house and hang under our vinyl calender for the kids to keep track of reading logs, soccer schedules, and the like. I'll post pictures when I get that one done...until then, I'm off to make soap!

Here's a little hint:




Friday, August 12, 2011

Less than Perfect

I'd like to say I'm perfect (and I'd like to have you believe I'm perfect), but I am not. Sometimes I fail....really fail....and that is part of life. I have to laugh at myself or I'm pretty sure I'd have to cry.

I've been trying to get some of my fall line on the curing rack while also getting the kids ready for school and make some end of summer memories. I've been working on fall favorites and some new creations. And it seems that I've forgotten how to make soap over the summer!

I hope you don't mind seeing my ugly, imperfect side. I don't often share this kind of thing with anyone in fear you might see me in another light.



I think I must have left out one of the oils because this was clearly brittle when I unmolded it and sure enough it tested way up there on pH. Eeek......this one will be going in the garbage and I really hate that....waste that is...and that I'm not perfect. I haven't made a bad batch in FOREVER.



And this one in the same week!! What??!! I'm pretty sure I've been on vacation for way too long.

The first image is the original batch and it appears that the cocoa powder I used to color it separated out. While it is perfectly usable, let's be honest...it's ugly. My husband said it reminded him of burnt upside down cake. I think I'll chop it up and use it in my own shower. At least I don't have to throw it out. The second image is the 2nd version. It is lovely. I took the re-do as an opportunity to play with the layers creating a "crust" for my pie.

Be looking for some new pie creations and some favorites from last year. With any luck I won't have any more mishaps and have a full inventory!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gone Already?

I can't believe it is August already! The grass is scorched from record breaking heat, yet there is still beauty to be found and memories to make before I send my brood back to the arms of waiting teachers.



There are supplies to be bought and clothes to try on. And life moves on and on, faster than I can track. I know that even as I've watched them all summer they have inched their way out of shoes and pants.



August, this week in fact, marks 12 years spent with this amazing man. Twelve years, where does that time go? I've been so blessed to have grown with this man beside me. He is my best friend. He keeps me balanced like no other, brings out he best in me. He is the daddy to these precious, growing boys. I can only pray they'll turn out like him.



I guess you could say:



My summer may be drawing to an end, but I still have us. And I love who we all are together.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot Summer Days

As the summer days dwindle we find ourselves searching for new ways to pass these dog days. Things that keep us cool and things that entertain boys. An afternoon in the sprinkler is always required or a dip in the community pool. But sometimes we need a new idea.

Our latest activity we learned at our local library during one of their fabulous summer reading program events. The theme was "Games from Around the World". Do you remember playing hopscotch on the grade school playground? We love this variation on the game originating from France. It's called Escargot ("snail").

You'll need a large concrete area and chalk (or for indoor play painters tape works well). View the instructions for playing Escargot here.

Sidewalk Chalk
Escargot
and here we goLink

The boys even talked Daddy into playing. We had a full evening playing and laughing and exercising!

You might also be interested in these other variations of this classic playground game.

Our next activity: Giant Bubbles! (thanks to our friend at Cilicia's Home and Hearth for sharing this activity from Design Dazzle with us!) and some rubberband shooters 'cause we are boys and it's fun!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Simplifying Summer

Simplifying our summer has been a mission of mine. A summer with simple adventure and meaningful moments...moments that enrich mind, body, spirit, soul. A summer of Popsicles, library books, and little day trips. A summer of quiet contentment, of exploring the nature around us. A summer without stress and over booked schedules. A summer of soaking up these moments of here and now, reveling in the glory of God's gifts... of these two boys who are growing up faster than I want.

So we Slow Down....



"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. "(James 4:14)

A couple hours fun

Rockets Red Glare

At a "Little House"

History Lesson

A nature walk

Rock hopping

Gone fishin'

A blue beauty

Just coolin' off



Looking for ways to entertain? Check out "Bits of Summer Fun" by Laura Winslow for more great ideas to fill your summer with simple fun.