Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The package arrived!

A little while back, Carrie of Under the Willow Shop had a giveaway of her products and I won one of her two prizes. I finally got around to going to the mailbox and lo and behold, there was a package from Carrie. I had forgotten that she does such lovely packaging

And then to find all this inside, was like Christmas as a kid all over again. Actually better than what we got for gifts as kids, mom would give us underwear and socks.

There was the new Mistletoe Mountain, Cambridge Rum and Lavender Grace laundry soap, along with a "sample" pack of household cleaner (I laugh because as you can see, the sample pack is huge!) along with samples of the Honey and Ale, Cambridge Rum, and Berries and Porter soaps.

I think I'm going to put the soap samples into hubby's underwear drawer to keep his delicates smelling nice, but I can't wait to try out the laundry soaps. I think it's Mistletoe Mountain that I smell the most and it's fabulous!

So once again thank you so much Carrie, for hosting a giveaway of your wonderful products.

Friday, 23 December 2011

That's what friends are for

A friend emailed yesterday to see if she could come for a visit today. We used to carpool together, and since I'd quit my day job, of course I haven't seen her as often and so it was nice of her to call.

We always have a nice time chatting, and at this time of year exchanging Christmas gifts. She had bought some soaps previously for her co-workers who said they loved them. This time, she wanted to buy some gifts for friends and family and ended up taking home about 40 soaps. Just as I thought the Christmas sales were over, she comes along and makes up for the lack of sales from the salon.

I may not have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have are special and wonderful.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Who knows what gifts ideas lurks in the minds of people?

With deepest apologies to the creators of The Shadow for the title of this post.

Since this is the time of year to spend money with reckless abandon for some people, it seemed appropriate to try and sell my soaps wherever possible. My hairdresser liked the soaps so I dropped of a basket of one of each type of soap at her salon, thinking her clients would pick up a soap or two as a stocking stuffer. That was approximately two weeks ago .

I called her today to follow up and she said there was no movement whatsoever.  She will buy a couple, but none of her other clients wanted any. One woman had shown interest in an animal soap for her granddaughter, but when shown the product, she didn't want to spend $6 on a gift for a 2 year old. Is $6 too much?

This just means that I have to work harder at trying other avenues. Or I just take the rest of the holiday season off to enjoy with friends and family because that really is what this time of year is all about, isn't it?

Monday, 19 December 2011

Do you journal?

I've been reading a couple of books lately that says that to inspire creative ideas and help people find themselves, it's important to keep a journal. To me, that is the hardest thing to do, well next to doing math. In university, I took a lot of English courses, but only because like I said, math and science were not my forte and so English made for a good elective. Verbosity is not my strong suit, 2000 word essays were the bane of my existence. I could say what I wanted to say in 500 words or less, so I spent more time counting the number of words I'd written (do "a" and "the" count in an essay?) than actually trying to write the essay itself.

Which leads me to the title, do you journal? And if you do, do you do it on a daily basis? Has it helped you to unleash your creative juices?

Monday, 12 December 2011

It's cookie time

Every year, my friends get edible gifts for me because I figure it's one of those gifts that won't get re-gifted, and who doesn't like cookies? I tend to make the same cookies each year but since it's only once a year, no one seems to mind. One cookie I make that everyone seems to be impressed with is the Neopolitan cookie. It's easy to make, but looks like a lot of work.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond or peppermint extract
5 drops red food colouring
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

Line a 9x5x3 inch pan with waxed paper, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over the sides of the pan.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until mixture is fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until the ingredients are combined. Slowly add the flour mixture beating on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until ingredients are combined.

Divide dough into 3 portions and place each into a separate bowl. Stir almond or peppermint extract and food colouring into one portion. Stir chopped nuts into second portion and the melted chocolate into remaining portion.

Pat the pink dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Pat the dough with nuts over the pink dough and top with chocolate dough. Cover the pan and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until the dough is firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove the chilled dough from the pan by lifting the waxed paper ends, remove the waxed paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half. Cut each cookie block crosswise into 1/8 to 1/4" wide slices. Arrange the slices about 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are firm and light brown. Cool cookies on sheet for 1 minute then trasnfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield:  72-84 cookies.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

What do you do when it's no longer crafting season?

I feel at a bit of a loss at the moment now that the two shows are over. I know I was chomping at the bit to have them over with but that was only with the provision that I sold off every last Christmas soap I made. The preparations leading up to the shows, the lack of sleep the late nights seemed at the time a chore, but they were also somewhat of an adrenaline rush. Now I'm having to clean things up, figure out which soaps to give as presents to friends and work on the paperwork side of things which is a bit boring by comparison.

I still have one more possible lead, that is my hairstylist. I went in for a cut today and to drop off a basket of soaps at her salon to see if her other customers might be interested. Like me, she was more interested in the basket the soaps came in than the contents. So fingers crossed, she will give me a good order by the end of the week.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Qualifying the event

When I first started thinking about going into craft shows, I vaguely recall reading something about checking out the shows before entering. That's great for someone who's careful and plans things out, but not me, I wanted to jump right in and do the fairs this season.

So, of course, the first one went very well, especially considering it was my first time and I knew nothing about what I was getting into. After that, I thought, easy peasy, the second one will be a piece of cake.

I'm not blaming the organizer of the second event, I'm surprised that a mother of 4 would even want to set up an event like this, but for all I know, she's a Type A personality to the extreme. What I should've tweaked on maybe though, was that it's out in the 'burbs. Not in the affluent 'burbs where people spend money, and not in farming 'burbs either where people would support local business. No, this is, and no offense to anyone, a middle America wannabe 'burb. If it ain't in a store that's come up from the States, it's not worth having.

The fair was also not a crafters only event, there was everything from local crafters to Mary Kay and Tupperware reps there and so it drew a very eclectic crowd there. The set up for the show was very bizarre as well. Where I'm used to going to shows where each vendor has a back curtain and side curtains separating them, those of us in the centre of the room were backing onto the people behind us, with no division and the tables were set so they were touching each other. Without the back I wasn't able to set up my signs and had to rely on people coming closer to see what in the world I was selling.

Fortunately the show was only 1.5 days as the crowds we were told would come on Saturday never materialized. It got to the point that some of the vendors even packed up early and left, which is demoralizing for everyone.

Needless to say, I'm not going to go back to this show next year, I've learned that I need to show my soaps in an environment that's more craft friendly and in a town that's more supportive of the arts, whatever they may be.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The next one cometh

Tomorrow is my second and last craft fair for this year. I'm hoping that I can sell more of the gift sets that hubby worked so hard to make. He'd come home after work and make the boxes, cutting them in the garage where it's cold, and then come inside to do the detail work like sanding down the corners of the boxes. He'd even considered at one point of making Saturns for the spaceship gift box out of the same material as the box. Fortunately, we found some space stickers and saved him time and aggravation (and me watching the air turn blue with his swearing).

I admire people who are involved in a ton of craft fairs at this time of year, it must be very tiring to be doing show after show after show. The rewards however must be huge as people do keep coming back and doing them year after year.

After this, I'll need to start working on my wholesale costs and listing out stores I want to approach with my soaps. Obviously I'm a little behind, I should've been hitting stores back a month or two ago, but I'm chalking this one up to experience and by next year I hope to be well ahead of the game rather than staying up all night for weeks prior.