Friday, May 30, 2008

Our Peeps

This year we decided to order 10 hens to raise for eggs. We hope they are all hens. They've been by a Chicken Sexer, so there's a high probability that they are girls. Fingers crossed. Chickens are a big thing in our town. I never realized how many people have a few chickens in their yard for eggs or (gulp) meat. We run into friends and neighbors at the store on order day and then 4 weeks later when the little chicks arrive. Gerry and the kids picked out the breeds (?) that we have. I know some... Rhode Island Reds, Bantams, Anacondas (no, that's a snake, but it's something like that.) Comets. Anyway, my need to nurture has kicked in and I am their primary caregiver. Four of the ten are about a week older, so we were nervous about flock integration. It's been smooth. They currently reside in a wood box in our upstairs laundry room with a heat lamp that keeps it about 85 degrees around them. (Don't tell Peter, but I put an old pair of his boxers in there for the chicks to cuddle on.)

Hopefully, in a few weeks they will be able to share the coop with Little Guy, our sweet white hen and the only remaining member of the Kindergarten flock. Unfortunately, Connor The Angry Rooster was killed by a fox about three weeks ago. As afraid as I was of that chicken, I was really sad when he died. I'm pretty sure that he was defending Little Guy when the fox got him. *sniff* Anyway, if things go well, she'll have ten little hens to care for and spend time with. Cross your fingers for us! I'm a bit too city for the whole thing!

In other chick news, I was headed outside to take some pics for etsy this afternoon. I looked up at the little Robin's nest, that's built on our light under the porch, to see if the mama Robin was up there and I saw 2 little Robin Chick beaks poking out over the lip of the nest. How very cute they are waiting for a worm or two!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Birch Bonding

Sherrie Graham is a sweet, talented soapmaker from Nova Scotia, Canada. She and I discovered each other because we both named our businesses around beautiful birch trees. Sherrie owns
Birch Bark Soap and has a great blog named~yup! Birch Bark Soap! She is a master at using simplicity to highlight the purity of her product!

I feel so lucky because I've been using some of that purely delightful product for the past week! Sherrie sweetly sent down an Oatmeal, Milk & Honey bar and an Exfoliating Gardener's Bar.
Sherrie does both CP & HP soapmaking. I think these are CP, but check the comments because Sherrie may correct me! :) They are WONDERFUL soaps!

It's been a real joy to try these babies out! I've been using the Oatmeal bar in the shower for the past few days. It has a great lather, smooth as silk glide and the fragrance is sweet & soothing! I love it! I'm not much of a gardener, but I always seem to have dirt on my hands this time of year. Sherrie's Gardeners Bar uses cornmeal as the exfoliant and it works brilliantly. That coupled with the calming scent of Almond & Honey makes it a real winner!

If I were you, I'd click on over to Sherrie's Etsy shop and do some shopping! You'll be so happy you did because her soaps are a real treat!! Thanks, Sherrie~ and lots of Birch Bubble Love to you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Swirly Girl

Back in April, I was lucky enough to attend a seminar taught by Lori Nova. She is one of the soaper rock stars that I'd learned about when I was doing my bubble research. Lori is out in California and she owns The Nova Studio, where she teaches the craft of soapmaking and other bath & body techniques. She is knowledgeable, nice & super sweet!

Her seminar was fantastic. She took all of us in the room (about 75 for the 2nd seminar) through the step-by-step process of creating CP soap. From oil temps to colorants & fragrance options all the way to the actual swirl, she was thorough and clear. She also answered a lot of questions. It was a great class! BTW, isn't her apron darling?

Armed with the packet that Lori handed out and a picture in my mind's eye, I decided to give it a go. I chose to go very basic with a Lavender bar. Have you all tried BB's Lavender de Provence? It's soo yummy. I've never been a Lavender lover, but this is just perfect. Anyway, here's a look at my first batch. Although I would use a darker color next time, I'm so psyched about the actual swirl. I wish I'd taken a picture of my novice batch from last winter. ick.

My Love You Lavender Swirl will be available on Etsy by June 20th. ;)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Korean Tae Kwon Do Demo Team

OMG! My Butt Hurts!

So, I completed my first TaeKwonDo Class last night. Two things became blatantly apparent to me. The first revelation was that I'm not so coordinated! I've been watching my family do TKD for almost 2 years. It didn't look so hard from where I sat... on a bench, on my butt (more on that later!) I even fought off giggles a couple of times when Gerry or the boys got their limbs tangled up! Guess what? It's HARD!! I can't tell you how many times Miss Chase (my instructor/best babysitter in the world) told me to do X & Y at the same time and not one part of my body listened! Yikes. If you check out the YouTube vid, you'll see what it's supposed to look like!!

Item two. My butt has muscles in it that haven't been used....ever! As a point of reference, this might be a good time to share that I used to weigh about 80 lbs more than I do now. Well... we are the home state of Ben & Jerry!! After four pregnancies in 7 years I was quite LAHHGE as they say in my home state! A friend sent me a postcard with information about how to drink her special shakes and loose weight. What struck me was the vision of her sitting at a desk thinking of who to send these cards to, and coming up with my name! It was the reality check that I needed. I DIDN'T drink the shakes, but I did shake the weight. So then I started working out.
Not fanatically, but enough to tone up a little and feel ok in jeans...most of the time.
Anyway! Last night I did about 25 round kicks and 25 side kicks and 15 axe kicks and some other stuff and I can feel it!! Here and here and over there! Ouch! I'm now lowering myself into chairs in an awkward, slow way!

It was actually a blast and I can't wait to go again on Tuesday. I love the idea of getting past the "I can't do this" that I started to feel and getting to the "YESSSSS!" of actually doing it! And, if the promise of a better butt isn't enough, then certainly looking at Ella in her sparring gear is worth it!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho To TKD I Go!

I'm off to my first TaeKwonDo Class. All of my kids and my husband out rank me when we're there! Wish me luck!! Stay tuned for the full description of my experience. (Here's some inside info... I'm not a jock!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Share Some Pamplemousse With Your BFF!

Yay! Time for another giveaway!!! With all of the love I've been getting about the Pamplemousse (see here & here!) I think it's the perfect fragrance for a One Bubble Giveaway! Pamplemousse is a yummy, revitalizing blend of tart, sweet pink grapefruit & a tiny hint of floral! You'll love it! Promise!

Spring is here, the grass is green... time to pamper yourself and your favorite girlfriend with some yummy, skin-loving products from Twin Birch Bath & Body! If you are the lucky winner, you'll receive an 8 oz tub of Birch Bliss Shower Butter, a 10 oz Pure Soy Candle, handcrafted Artisan Soap & a fun 3 pack of Birch Bliss Bath Bombs which are infused with softening unrefined Shea Butter! Each bomb weighs about 5 oz and offers lots of fizz & fragrance! Our Shower Butter is delish! Complete with a little sugar & sparkle, you'll be clean, soft & dazzling! And make sure you set the mood by lighting our beautiful soy candle! You'll have no choice but to make time to care for your skin & spirit!! I promise to package it beautifully! After all, we all deserve a fabulous gift!

Here's the plan: email a link of this post to your favorite girlfriends and have them leave a comment with your name in it! Then, you leave a comment as well... say whatever you feel like saying... and you'll be entered! Next month is my birthday month! I'll be 41 on 6/22. Soooo,
I'll pick the winners with some of those numbers in mind... :) I'll pick a pair of friends on the 15th!! I'll take care of everything after that! So fun!

Can't wait to see who wins!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Over My Dead Body?

I kind of mentioned our Little League snafu here. Time for the whole story. We missed the Little League tryouts for Peter, our 2nd born. He's 10. He loves sports! He wanted to play baseball in the worst way. Gerry had jury duty with one of the Board members who told him to call the president because they were short players and he was sure they would love Peter on one of the teams. Great!

So, Gerry made the call and got a big, fat "NO!" The person on the phone, who I respect for all of their work in the community and their dedication to Little League, said that even though practice hadn't started yet and they only had 11 kids on each of the 5 teams, (they can have up to 15 kids, so that's 20 spots, right?) they'd had tryouts and he wasn't there, so no way.

Well, Gerry didn't do what a lot of parents (including me) would have done. His son wanted to play baseball and he wanted to help him! So he made a boat load of phone calls. He called coaches, other board members, other parents... really he was amazing. The great thing was that EVERYONE else was supportive of Peter playing ball. After a long 2 week battle and rumors of some not so nice things being said, the board voted 6-2 to open tryouts again for everyone.

Sadly, the notice didn't make it into the paper. I still don't get that.

We did know about the tryouts and, happily, Peter did get to join the A's and he is having a blast. So are we! Who knew how much fun a sunny Saturday morning baseball game could be? Thanks to Gerry and a bunch of other great grown-ups, we do!! Next year, I'm going to make sure that everyone I know, knows when tryouts are!! I'm kind of a loud-mouth! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Perfect Vendor Apron

Well here we are! The start of Craft Show Season is upon us! It's been so fun to read advice and tips on all of my favorite blogs (listed over there...) People have some of the smartest ideas, prettiest displays and greatest words of wisdom. Check out this post on The Soap Queen for some great advice about price resistance.

Anyhoo, my favorite embroidery friend, Whitney at Your Way Embroidery, made me this fabulous vendor apron! I'm using it at events and it's perfect! Just the right size and you can fit change, a cell phone, and some extra business cards right in there!! Here's the link to Your Way Embroidery so that you can get your own!!! Whitney is just fantastic to work with and she's quick, too!!!

Thanks for my apron, Whitney!! I love it! Happy Craft Season to y'all! :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Down Under Soap is Over the Top!

I am one lucky girl!! I just received the most adorable Pink Gift Bag from Michelle of Oats and Honey!! First of all, I won it which is so fab! Secondly, the packaging is insanely cute! Most importantly, it all smells and looks DIVINE!!! Plus, it's so very cool to think of it being here after it started out in Australia!! I wish you all could lay your hands/noses on this bundle of soapy joy!

Michelle included4 handcrafted treats. They are Chocolate Strawberry Bubble Muffins, Granola Scrub, Avocado & Yoghurt Soap (note the "h"!) and Carrot & Calendula Soap which is Vegan. I can't wait to dig in!! Enjoy the pictures and click over to her blog to enjoy her sweet-as-honey self!!
Thanks so much, Michelle! I love it to pieces!! In fact, you've inspired me to have another One Bubble Giveaway! Stay tuned for details!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Feelin' Crafty

I had a space at Crafts in the Park, a 32 year old event in my hometown of Andover, MA. The park is in front of my junior high school(!). Because of weather, it was moved to Sunday~Mother's Day.
The best part was seeing my sweet, shiny brood walking across the park, ready to help out. Thanks to Austen, Peter, Cora & Ella! You are my favorite Mother's Day gifts! Super thanks to Gerry for all of his help & hardwork. (And especially for going to Starbucks for me!)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thank You, Joanna @ The Soap Bar!!

Joanna Schmidt is a super-cool, super-sweet soapmaker, entrepeneur & mom in Florida who I've come to know from reading her very fun blog, The Soap Bar. She owns Product Body, which is an amazing bath & body company offering the yummiest products ever!

The other day she sent me an email to let me know that she liked the bar of Pamplemousse that I sent her way. There was a link, too. I clicked and... wow! She wrote a wonderful post about Pamplemousse and Twin Birch! I did a very geeky happy dance~don't tell! And immediately emailed the post to my hubby & sibs, girlfriends and notable others. It is the nicest, best feeling to read such kind words from Joanna! Check out my post about her delicious Product Body line. Check out her Product Body site. Check out the post about Twin Birch Pamplemousse! Oh, and go read The Soap Bar and Product Body Blog. They are so fun!

Thanks, Joanna! Woo Hoo! :) By the way, you can find my Pamplemousse & SoapCakes on Etsy!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dear Best Friend, Happy Birthday!

It's a very special day! Today is Gerry's (my darling husband) 42nd birthday! I have to share about how amazing he is and how lucky I am!

I've been lucky enough to call Gerry my best friend for 23 years. He is all of the things that a girl could hope for. He's smart, funny, kind, generous... he knows how to use a vacuum cleaner! He treats me like a princess. (And I only deserve it some of the time!) He is a successful attorney who treats everyone that he works with, with respect and courtesy.

Gerry is the best father I know. He's patient, loving and 100% active in his kids' lives. He plays games with them for hours! I've seen him play Barbies and then go throw the football or teach lacrosse or baseball techniques. He wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy the other night because Cora mis-placed her tooth before it made it under her pillow! He also spent 2 weeks working to help kids who had missed Little League sign ups get a second chance. (this included Peter who missed try outs. After 3 weeks and lots of energy to keep him off of the team, the Board generously voted 6-2 to allow a second try out day. That's a story worth its own post!)

He is even behind my bubble business in every way. He counts my inventory without grumbling about the 457 different organza bags I have. He helps get ready for craft shows. He turned his life upside down so that I could go to the HSMG conference for three days! He smells, washes and tries everything! He even smiles about being covered in Diamond Mica from a shimmer bar experiment!

I love you with all of my heart, Gerry. Thank you for being the most wonderful person in my life. Your arms are the safest place I know. Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 2, 2008

So Wonderful, I Cried!

I have to admit that I was a little depleted after the great Soap Guild Conference! Not only was there a TON of great information, but I was kind of out of my zone! Usually, I hang out with other mommies who are also sleep deprived and can't finish a sentence. Or else, I'm bubbling in the lab listening to Sirius and lost in my own thoughts. At the conference I was surrounded by sharp, talented people. I'm not saying that I'm not sharp and talented, just that I don't often get to exercise that part of my brain. It was a well-worth-it-wouldn't-trade-it effort to keep up.

One of the last seminars I attended was done by Alicia Grosso. Alicia wrote a book that I refer to often called "The Everything Soapmaking Book". It's a great reference and I love it. She also teaches at Otion. Her topic was "Hot Process Sculpting". I expected more technical information. What I got instead was a fabulous reminder of why I love making soap.

Alicia spoke about taking the time for ourselves and our customers to really meditate on good things while we create our products. She explained how important it is to nurture the love that soapmaking comes from. She shared that her brother is gravely ill and told the story of how she developed a fragrance blend with him a short time ago. She then went on to share with us the intimate moments of crafting soap with that blend and how she put all of her love and positive energy into making it a wonderful batch of soap. She distributed it amongst her family members and now they all have a piece of the love and good thoughts that came from the whole process. wow.

That night I came home and there was a little box from Scotland waiting for me! The second I opened it, I was enveloped by the most wonderful fragrance. I realized that it was from Elizabeth of gracefruit fame. She sent me 3 bars of the yummiest soap and 2 super-softening lip balms. Everything was made, wrapped and shipped with so much love it was palpable. I cried.
Who knew that soap could be so emotional? I did.

Thank you Elizabeth for your generosity and love. I felt it from the Highlands of Scotland all the way here in the Green Mountains. I can't stop pausing to close my eyes and inhale deeply the wonderful fragrance of love and kindness. Big hugs!