Saturday, October 18, 2014

One job, two jobs, one job.....

I'm back from a great week at the beach. We had good luck finding sponsors for the monk tour, ate some great food, and now begins the planning for a Sacred Arts Tour in Myrtle Beach for 2015. 

I also started a new job on Friday. I had no jobs, couldn't find any part time work. Then I found a part time job at the vintage store. Then my favorite store in town called and asked if I wanted to work Fridays and Saturdays. So I'm thinking I could do the vintage store and the garden store, but that didn't work out. I quit the vintage store and now I'm working on Fridays and Saturdays at the 
Fifth Season. I had so much fun the past two days! The hours flew by, I didn't even want to log out. I'm getting to help out with the merchandising, which I love and I am learning more than I ever knew existed about gardening, cheese making,brewing, soils, sooooo much! I'm working with a bunch of really nice young guys, so smart and funny and they just make everything so pleasant. Why can't all jobs be this way!?
They have a great website if you are interested in garden information. It's a very unique store and I am so glad the stars lined up and this job came around. I really needed to get out of the house! 
Wes is home this weekend and came by for a visit. Working Friday and Saturday will change my routines a bit, but not so much that it will be difficult. Just different. These days, different is good. I'll write more later, tired and going to bed for now!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The perfect fit

The last time Wesley was home, we went over to my pal Laura's to make prayer flags. Laura has been to India and had so much to share with Wesley about traveling there. She also gave her the most amazing gift, an outfit that was made for her while she was in India! It fit Wes perfectly and seemed to totally change her personality when she put it on. She is soooo ready for this trip!

I will be in Myrtle Beach for the week, traveling with the Sacred Arts tour coordinator and looking for locations that will also be a perfect fit for the next monk tour. Hopefully Wesley will be filming this group as well. Fingers crossed, tomorrow is her first interview for the Fulbright... Step 1.

I'll be back soon

Saturday, October 11, 2014


 I am getting closer and closer to a soap recipe I like. Thanks to everyone who is asking when I'm going to sell them! I heard from a friend yesterday that he gave a bar to his sister and it has cleared up her eczema, who knew!? Michele Hastings had mentioned in a previous post that sometimes the essential oils bother her skin.

Which leads to me to thinking about fragrance free soaps. One, the essential oils are EXPENSIVE!. Two, I don't know what I'm doing and its a crap shoot if the blend I mix turns out. I am all about problem solving, and this fragrance thing is a problem for me. So, if the oils can be skin irritants why use them? I think clay soaps for oily skin and soap with luxurious ingredients like shea butter and hemp seed oil and calendula petals might be nice on their own without the fragrance. What do you think?

The only thing about this is watching people around soaps. The place I'm working now sells fine french milled soap and every person that looks at the soap picks it up and smells it, first thing. I do it too. I like soap fragrance. But apparently not everyone does.

So maybe there are better reasons to make soap, like good for your skin reasons....

The shop I am working in also had these cute wooden baskets. I suggested while helping on a soap display that we use them to package some of the soaps, I got shot down, so I bought the things and did my own packaging. I added some green spanish moss, got some colored raffia and some clear bags, and voila, instant gift! I also found these tiny little brown paper bags that I thought would be a nice item to tuck in with a purchase, add a couple of soap ends and a card with the soap ingredients, fun!
I have been trying to find a clever way to package soap that isn't like what everyone else is doing. Its a challenge for sure.

I now have a choice to make with this job thing. I have been looking for some part time work to help fund Wesley's school and film costs. I applied first at a local DIY garden shop that sells homebrew supplies, canning, cheese making, organic farm supplies, etc. Its sort of a boutique garden center with the nicest guys ever working there. I love this store and really wanted to work there. Then I applied at the shop where I am nowworking, because the garden shop didn't have any hours available. And you know what happened don't you?!  As soon as I got the job at the vintage store, which I also like a lot, the garden store called and asked if I was still interested. Of course they did. I knew this was going to happen. I was hoping I would be able to work at both places and have all kinds of fun, but they both want me to work Saturdays..... so I have to choose, one or the other, not both..... ugh.

I had an interesting day yesterday at the vintage store. They also sell very expensive clothing and I helped a lady choose an outfit for her class reunion. Without blinking an eye she bought a jacket and some black leggings for almost $300...... I don't think I have spent $300 on clothing this entire year. It amazes me, this money thing. In my mind, $300 is Wesley's rent and groceries, its a car payment, its groceries for us, its a power bill..... it's sure as hell not a jacket and leggings...... I am living in a different Universe.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Soap, herbs, cheese, maters, chicks

 Ok here we go. Thanks to Mercury my computer screen died and then flickered back to life. I'm going to get these pics up before it disappears again. I spent the morning putting all my pics on an external hard drive, just in case. Back those computers up, y'all!
Do you have things go wrong during Mercury retrograde? I do every time!

I made four batches of soap this week and they all came out really nice. Think fall. Cedarwood, fir needle, coffee beans, pumpkin, cocoa, cinnamon, patchouli, lemon, orange, dried calendula petals, seed pods, harvested rosemary. All subtle fragrance, but they are very artisan in appearance, I'm very pleased!

I used skin nourishing and moisturizing ingredients and clays and essential oils for soaps that are silky smooth, create great lather and are kind to your skin. They might be ready to go out into the world soooon.
The first bar was made with coffee, it's more brown than the photo shows. It has layers of cocoa, peppermint, patchouli, calendula, and kaolin, all things wintry and cozy.The second one was made with green tea, shea butter, and green clay and it is darker green than the photo. It smells of a fall walk in the woods. Fir needle, cedarwood, ho wood and lemongrass, topped with seed pods from the yard, rosemary from my garden and calendula petals for skin soothing. Third one is made with pumpkin, cardamom tea, cocoa powder and kaolin, with layers of cinnamon and calendula. The fragrance is lemon, ho wood, litsea and cedarwood, like a fall day.  The last one is a shea butter citrus blend of orange and lemon, with labdanum and cedarwood for depth. There is a lower layer of rosemary powder, then topped with calendula petals for nourishing the skin and just decorating the bar with fall happiness.

Soap logs before cutting. This last batch was a major effort and I pushed myself a bit farther than my capabilities right now, but I think it paid off. There are very talented soap makers out there that would certainly put me to shame here, but I'm pleased with these and pleased with the progress I see from the first batch I made and the second failed batch and the third nearly there batch. These are good. Still work to do on the fragrance, but I have been using some of the cured bars from the clay batch and they feel so incredible. Why in the world have I been buying grocery store soaps?!?!?!

I love the layers of pumpkin, cocoa and cinnamon in this one. Looks like a fall harvest.

Gerry gave me a cheese making kit for my birthday and here is my first effort at making mozzarella. It wasn't as stretchy as it should have been, more like a ricotta, but it was delicious. I celebrated by making a tomato sauce with tomatoes, basil and oregano from our garden and topping it with the cheese. Unbelievably good! I took photos but I had the camera on the wrong setting so it looked more like something the dog might have thrown up....

 We have harvested the last of our summer tomatoes. I cut a bunch of my herbs and tied them up for drying. We are getting one egg per day, the other two girls are not interested in the egg making business yet.... but the ones we are getting are so great. I'm quite the homesteader these days, haha!

".....and she said......" , girls just gotta gossip :) , but aren't they the prettiest things!?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Technical difficulties

I spent a good part of the day yesterday photographing my new soap batches to show you today. I was using a camera Gerry loaned me because my camera died. I don't know how to use that camera 
and every photo I shot looked like shite, so I won't be showing you because my soaps are beautiful and I love them and they deserve better. As I was discovering how bad the photos were on my laptop, it also died. I can't consult with anyone in this house about my technical issues because for some reason some people (ahem) get angry with me when I have computer problems. Well, I'm sorry that everyone but me has a new Mac and I have a dinosaur and it has issues. Right now it has no screen. So it looks like I will be blogging by way of iPhone and iPad, ugh. That is not going to be ideal so just hang on until I get this sorted out!  Meanwhile here are some happy pumpkins at Old Salem. I'll just do some iPhone photos tomorrow of the soaps, they are soooo great, very happy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New wheels,new job

Gerry got me some new skateboard wheels for my 54th birthday. My neighborhood is suicidal for a rusty skater like me, lots of steep hills. I went and got a helmet and all sorts of crash pads, never wore anything like this before to skate, but I think I might break a lot easier than when I was 15. 
Still, we went out tonight, Gerry has a long board, and I have this old school Alva, which I recently found on eBay for $200. I'm sure our neighbors wondered what the hell of couple of old folks like us were doing. We have a great hill where Gerry can scream down the hill, and a place where I can gently coast. It's like having a black diamond and a bunny slope on the same hill. We had soooo much fun, Stayed out until it got too dark to see, and I'm feeling more and more steady on my board. It felt good to ride again. I got this thing before I turned 21 and it's still a great board. This photo of me was a bit of a shock, I have never looked so much like my dad in a photo, just my face part is like looking at a photo of him. Even Gerry thought so, it was kind of unsettling......
Click my Instagram on the right to check out a video of Gerry riding, the man is a freak of nature!

Oh yeah, so I also got a part time job at a local antiques/ gifts shop that I have been a fan of since we moved here. They had a sign at the door that they were looking for help, and what do YA know, I'm looking for an income! The store is great, really like the folks that work there, they all love the same things I love, books,old stuff, rusty stuff, soap, interesting things to look at...... I think it will be fun. I'll bathe, brush my hair, put on clean clothes and be with other people. I might even remember how to do all of this! Then I'll come home and go skateboard!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Universe of Me

 Ok, it's time..... time to move to my own Universe. Planet Tracey has been in orbit around Wesley and Gerry for 30 years now and I'm feeling like it might be time to move to my own solar system. Wesley is working fiercely on the independence thing, needing me less and less and Gerry is on planet Associated Press, getting ready to go into shooting basketball every night and not being around... even when he is around..... just sayin'

So, let's talk about ME! I have to get out of the house more. You can only sit around in leggings and flannel shirts for so long and then you realize you are one major fashion tragedy. I took a hard look at my closet yesterday and it is a thing of woe. Time to make some changes. Do something different, stop planning my entire life around two other people. Everything I have done for thirty years has been focused on my family and their happiness and success. I have been the mom eating the burnt toast.

My pal Laura invited me and Wesley out to her studio to make prayer flags this weekend. This has now introduced a new obsession! I love making these flags! I got out all of my fabric stash, dusted off my White sewing machine that my dad bought me when I was in high school, and I spent the entire day yesterday happily stitching away. What a nice gift to myself. Making for the sheer joy of making. I didn't think about who would buy these, how much would I sell them for, where would I sell them, how would I photograph them for Etsy. Nada.... I just made....... bliss! Look at this happy mess! This room has not looked this creative in a year.

Here is Laura's prayer flag on her screened porch. Laura makes art for herself, alot. I am going to take a cue from her and start making things for just me or to give away. I hardly ever make anything without thinking of how much I am going to sell it for and who the customer will be.
Resting that for awhile.....

little raku beads and sticks from the Linville Gorge wrapped with embroidery thread
Wesley's flag, made with photo transfer paper and bleach stick

 Here are three I made yesterday, yes the photos suck, I only have an iphone now. Yes I live with a professional photographer that has thousands of dollars worth of camera gear, but I have an iphone and two broken point and shoot cameras. The cobbler still has no shoes....

Wesley came home for the weekend to finish up her Fulbright grant and get a little quiet from school. We had a great weekend together making and talking. More happy mess downstairs!


Wes gave me a tiny lap loom for my birthday that she got at Old Salem and I have been weaving away at night while watching TV. I have been holding on to a precious ball of yarn and strip of fabric Cindy, from Handstories blog sent me some time ago. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it, not wanting to waste it. I finally used the materials and wove a little hanging this weekend. I used a couple of my raku beads and stuck in a chicken feather just for fun. I tucked it in the box of food and things I sent back to school with Wesley for a surprise. It really looks much nicer than my photo, ugh.

The best cup I ever made

Another yarn I have been hoarding. I bought this at a fiber festival last fall. I made little mats for my cups and tea pot, so cute and so quick, I don't get too overwhelmed by the size of the project this way. I have a problem with instant gratification. I start a project and I want to see the finished thing before I hardly even begin, so I stay at it until I can barely see anymore. Things like puzzles, knitting, weaving, painting...... I have a problem if they are big pieces..... this little loom is perfect for self control!

Also continuing to figure out this soap thing. Still don't have a clue how to get a really great fragrance, mine are ok, just meh..... but this last batch is soooo nice otherwise. I used sea clay and red moroccan clay, hemp seed oil and rosemary powder from my garden. They are soft and silky and I cut them in big chunky bar sizes so they feel like they are really special. I also made some little guest soaps, just experimenting with sizes and shapes. I ordered some new essential oils, gonna try a different path. The citrus is just not working, the fragrance won't stick and it is gone in a week. I'm going to try some more earthy oils that have more lasting properties and see how that goes. I do like the citrus, but its a waste of money to add these oils and then have them fade so fast. One of these days, it will all come together, they are getting better and better......

Now, off for some ME time!
peace y'all