Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pet Show

This afternoon was the much-anticipated second grade pet show at our son's school. After thinking of the worst case scenarios, such as 1. Kitty runs away 2. Kitty tears my face off 3. Kitty relieves herself in my car 4. Kitty attacks a pit bull- I bravely chose to attach her collar and a makeshift leash, put her in the car, drive to the school and hope for the best.

We were the first to arrive, so we hung out on the playground equipment until other pet parents began to appear. The first dog was very large, clearly outweighing it's owner, so we hung back for awhile. The eventual menagerie included an assortment of canines, six felines, and a koi. The main cacophany came from the dogs, and an occasional meow by a cat. The koi was very quiet.

Things were well under control until the kids were released from the school, spilling out onto the sidewalks and running towards us. Kiwi the kitty took one look, climbed my sweater, and buried her face in my neck. She did eventually peek out and relax when our son appeared, and then his friends were able to pet her. She actually did a very good job of controlling herself in a stressful situation, and was a bit reluctant to go back into the house at the end of our adventure. She went straight to the water dish, and I went straight to the lint brush.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Markets and Gas

Our local farmer's market began two weeks ago. Because of a big concert the following day, I didn't want to risk being outside in the wind and cold and then having no voice to sing. (The website for the choir is www.unavocis.org) The concert went wonderfully, as my director-husband would agree. We couldn't have asked for better.

Last Friday's market was very good, although all of our vendors are not attending yet- they will start showing up in a couple of weeks with flowering plants, more vegetable plant starters, more baked goods. It is a bit funny and a bit sad when people show up already in May looking for sweet corn and green beans....they have lost the link between their food and it's origins. The food at our market is grown and produced by the vendors, and most of the corn and beans have just been planted. I just find it mildly amusing. Soap and candles, organic lotions and balms continue to be a big hit, the new packaging and display are fresh for the season, with more of a 'natural' tilt with color and fabrics. That coincides with my using mostly organic ingredients, selecting recyclable and recycled packaging and bags, and everything the business stands for in general. New this season are aromatherapy inhalers utilizing special synergy blends of essential oils. Lavender pillow mist is the new addition for the market next week!

School is out late next week, and mom here isn't quite sure how to juggle things! It generally requires a couple of weeks of chaos to get into a groove. We wanted to drive to Seattle this summer, to get back to the old stomping grounds of 13 years ago, and so our oldest could see where he was born. With gas prices climbing exponentially, that just may not happen. We may be finding interesting areas within our own state and in Minnesota instead. I'm looking at buying a new car soon, one that gets better gas mileage than my '96 Caravan (a whopping 14.7 mpg.) Leaning towards a Prius..........I wish I could find a lavender one, like my old '71 VW Super Beetle LOL!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


In my quest (both personal and in business) to be more 'green', buy locally, eat organic, make non-toxic cleaners for my house, I came upon some interesting information. On a huge forum that I frequent, someone posted how awful her city is looking as the snow melts, and layer upon layer of trash is being exposed. As far as obvious littering, she said her biggest peeve is cigarette butts being tossed out like they don't 'qualify' as garbage. I encounter this every single day. While driving across town earlier this week, I wound up following five drivers who chucked their cigarettes out the window. (Knuckle-dragging mouthbreathers. I honk my horn at every one of them, and they look so surprised.) This was during a whopping 6 mile round trip. I know that each person I see doing this can't be so oblivious that they don't realize it's LITTERING. How many cigarette butts do you think the street sweepers pick up in a year? Wouldn't that be interesting (and nauseating) to find out?

Our state finally passed a smoking ban that will take effect this summer. Evidently, it will be against the law to smoke in any bar, restaurant, public place and place of work. Twelve years ago we were living in the Seattle area, and they had just passed smoking bans there. It took TWELVE years until that was done here. Interesting.

In the interest of the health of our surroundings as well as our own health, here are a few interesting stats on rates of decomposition, in years.
Paper -- 2.5 months
Orange Peel -- 6 months
Milk Carton -- 5 years
Cigarette Butt -- 10-12 years
Plastic bag -- 10-20 years
Disposable diaper -- 75 years
Tin can -- 100 years
Beer can -- 200-500 years
Styrofoam -- Never (immortal)

Last summer I switched to using post-consumer recycled bags and lavender recycled tissue at the shop. People actually asked for them, and I was waiting until the prices were similar to what I had been paying for polypropylene bags. The poly bags were recyclable, but paper is better to me. I had to purchase packing peanuts last fall, and found a great place in Golden Valley Minnesota, called Starch Tech. They make cornstarch peanuts! These things are wonderful, and they don't squash down like other starch packers I've tried. Went through four 20 cubic foot bags quickly, and have one left. The only bad thing is if you get one stuck to the bottom of your wet shoe- it becomes a sort of sticky starch lump, LOL! I'm still taking in peanuts that people drop off and use them for shipping- recycling by reusing. I just hope that they are, in turn, recycled again. I reuse most boxes that come in the door (and there are a lot).
Just trying to do my part.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Musings in wax

About one month ago, our pastor asked me if I could produce a 3x32"-ish soy pillar candle for the Easter vigil service this year. (...'what did you say?', I thought). "Well, I've never made one that tall before, but I'm sure I can do it" I said. (...'am I crazy?')

Plan A. After looking all over online, I did manage to find a couple of places that could special-order the mold- but it would take up to 15 working days, which put me with no time to pour the candle and possibly another in case the first did not burn as we needed. (...'okay, what the heck am I going to do now?')

Plan B. What is something that already exists as a tube? Stovepipe? Some sort of piping? GOT IT! PVC pipe!
So I hoofed it through Menards to the plumbing section and angels sang from above and birds twittered as I saw the perfect length of PVC waiting patiently for me. It was nice and smooth inside- smooth enough, anyway. (I figured out why I heard the birds so clearly- they live in the rafters of the building. Oh well, a jolt to reality never hurt anyone, right?)

Back home with the pipe and end piece, I ask my husband to cut off a length of 33 inches or so. Luckily, he did it with a smile, which was much better than I would have had on my face had I used a hacksaw on the sucker. With that done, it was a process of stopping up the end, wicking the mold after lubricating it with a dry silicone spray, and pouring the monster- and praying to Jesus that the candle turned out well.

I'm happy to say that a new Soyphisticated Candles record has been set. This bad boy weighs 10 pounds and is 32" long. My 13 year-old son gets to carry this candle in a procession.

He'd better not drop it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January- a time for renewal and thought

December was a huge month at the shop (Soyphisticated Candles) in Mason City, IA. This necessitated a 10 day break for sanity purposes. All is fairly well now, after a trying couple of weeks with an 8 year old son with a double ear infection and an elderly cat with an illness that could not be contained. Sadly, our kitty had to be put to sleep yesterday, at the ripe old age of 16 1/2. She was our first baby and we will miss her forever. Rest in peace, Matisse.

After-Christmas orders were delayed, but we're caught up now and mulling over exciting changes such as: new fragrances for the candle line, fun new soaps and shapes for the Farmer's Market, and several other new things. I'm tempted to drag out all of my fine silver and gold foil to make some new Keum-Boo pieces, as well as sheets of titanium for anodizing...I'm sure my significant other will be excited about more mess. That stuff tends to be contained in my little 7x9 'studio' at home.