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Archive for the ‘Soap Talk’ Category

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Aug
24
2010

I am not going to let Facebook ruin my blogging!

Seriously.  I find I update my facebook page and feel like I would be repeating myself here! Not so.  Plenty of people have not gone the facebook route.  Many times I wish I hadn’t! So I am going to make it right!  Starting today!  I am going to catch y’all up on what has happened in my life since I last posted and reinstate some things that kept me writing and hopefully you reading!

WOW, where to start? Go ahead and get that cup of coffee or tea and a biscuit and have a seat, this may take a while!  And I will try not to confuse you and keep my timeline straight.

It honestly isn’t like I have been holed up not living life.  Au contraire, mes amis! This Summer of 2010 has been crazy busy!  Gardening, mowing, kids, grandkids, short adventures, long adventures.  I will admit the cooking bug has been squashed in this horrible endless heat.  We have had so many days over 100 and even a couple with the heat index into the 100-teens.  I don’t know all the statistics but July broke records for heat and drought in my area.  I will never believe anyone who says “But it was a dry heat so it wasn’t so bad.” BULL!  Hot is hot.

Last time I posted was my birthday.  And it was a very very good birthday indeed.  Big OLD 51.  Not a milestone but something about starting on the second half of a century is kinda mind blowing.  I got this great wagon from Jerry.

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Isn’t she a beauty?  We have already put her to much use hauling pears from our one, insane pear tree.  These pears are inedible unless you are a raccoon or a possum.  And I forget how many Jerry said he hauled the last day he picked them up but it was a ridiculous amount.  They are gone and now the mama raccoon and her four little bandits are eating our cats’ food like crazy!  When Jerry gets home, if they are still around we are going to trap and relocate them before someone (namely Mo, Julius or Siobhan) gets hurt or killed.

Okay, so August moves along ~ rapidly it seems!  Jerry headed back to Tunisia the Monday after my birthday.  Here are a few pictures of the highlights of August. On the gardening subject, I have started some tomatoes I hope will be winter/greenhouse tomatoes.  This is a new thing for me.  I will see how it goes.  This is an early picture.  They are still alive, and have 6 little leaves, so that is a good sign, right?

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Oh and I have new overalls!  I bought these for myself – sort of a birthday present – sort of I fell in love with them and needed them!

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And the color is coffee!  Perfect!  And of course I needed new rubber boots and have been needing them for forever.  The ones I have are so dang heavy I can’t walk very far in them without getting leg cramps!

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Cute huh?

Okay, let’s see.  OH both girls, Hannah and Rachel started college yesterday.  That is sort of getting my cart before my horse in the timeline but it is pertinent to the next bit of what is going on and what will be going on.  So yes, they are both Northwestern State University Demons as of yesterday.  Hannah is in Accounting.  Rachel in Fine Arts.  I am sure as time goes on, they will provide me with tales to tell!

With Rachel starting college, she is dropping the baking biz all together.  That was a given.  Baking does not fit in her very busy schedule.  So I did this order all by myself last week.

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NOT FUN by myself!  Yes, that’s 16 boxes you count!  Petit fours, decorated cookies, mini Bakewells, cream wafers, chocolate chips…but it all turned out lovely and the customer was very very happy.

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The person I made all this for is a friend from way back and she called yesterday to say it was all a hit.  So happy to hear that!  And I have a little baking order today and one for this weekend for family and I will try to get postings made of those.  But I learned a lot doing this big (to me) order by myself.  One thing, I want/need help for something that big.  Two, it’s not that much fun working in the kitchen by myself on something so important.  Three, I miss making soap.

There I said it.  I have been saying it to myself for 6 months. And to Jerry for almost that long.  Just blurting it out every now and again in the middle of a discussion that has nothing to do with soapmaking.  Then I would follow up with “I don’t mean that do I?”  I know how much he hated how the soap took over our house before.  Here is just a small example.  Look at all the soap stuff! My poor kitchen!

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He even built me a shoppe.

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And still there were oils in every corner, soap curing all over the place.  Stacks of wrapped. Girls wrapping soap.

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Boxes waiting to be mailed.  UPS delivered something nearly every day. And this was a picture of my porch ONE DAY the week before Christmas 2007:

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The post office sent a separate truck to my house. They were so excited!  So was I – as far as I know not ONE mistake in that day’s shipping!  Business was so good and then along came MaryJanesFarm!  WOW.  Amazing.

And then my mom got sick. And everything changed.  Everything.  Soap was WAY down on my list of things that mattered.

When I sold the internet part of my business and forwarded my wholesale customers information about the new owners, I agreed not to go back into the internet soap business and compete with the people I sold that part to.  However, I just learned last week that they are no longer making soap to sell.  And have closed their internet shop.  I found this out when an old customer of mine emailed me to say the site was down, she had been ordering from them since I closed, and I sent out an inquiry to try and help her get what she needed.  I got a response that said “I am still making soap, just not selling it at present.We have closed down the web site and do not now for the time being have an internet presence.”

WOW! Really?  So what does this mean?  Will they never?  Could I make and sell again without breaking my word?  I am still mulling all that over.  I never want to do wholesale again.  About all it did was keep a little money in the kitty for ingredients and work me half to death!  I don’t want to put up a website again.  For one thing I don’t want to maintain one.  That alone is a lot of work.  But I don’t think my making soap for customers who have asked for it since I quit, doing an catalog in pdf form and talking about it here and on facebook violates that.  Especially since they are no longer doing business.  It was almost like that was the door I was waiting to open.  I have not sold soap locally in over three years.  And that was always part of the agreement.  I could make and sell all I wanted to locally.  I don’t want it to get overwhelming again.   Some months I mailed 2000 bars of soap not counting the local wholesale and local retail.  It was too TOO much for just me. I always, ALWAYS, wanted to have my hands on every bar that left here. I never expected it to grow into something I needed to hire someone besides the girls to help with. And as girls grew up and got jobs outside home, they didn’t have time.  And now they are both in college.  And I don’t think Ben has one bit of interest in soap. Other than for his personal use ;)

So yeah…I’m a nut. That’s not news to anyone.  I have felt so happy since I decided to give the soap pot another stir.  I just have to keep it real.  Keep it manageable and do nothing to violate my agreement.  An agreement that may or may not exist any more.

Enough of that.  Here is what’s coming up.  Interviews this Autumn that you will NOT believe.  Seriously. I get butterflies just thinking about it.  Oh please, please, please don’t fall thru!  Opportunities of a lifetime!  To pick these brains!  And then share my pickins with you happy people!

So let’s see.  Soap? covered.  Interviews? said all I can at this time.  Squeeeeeeee!!!!!!! Now…more stuff. I am going to reinstate and reorganize some “Days of The Week with NotQuiteJuneCleaver”:

  • Magpie Mondays ~news from here, chit chat, talkie, talkie, interviews{squeeeeeeee!!!!!}
  • Treehuggin’ Tuesday ~ pretty self explanatory – I’m a treehugger and I am going to talk about it on Tuesdays! Green products, etc
  • Wednesday’s Woman ~ I will introduce you to a blog I follow and the woman who writes it-maybe even a short little something from her
  • Thoughtful Thursday ~ What ever is worth thinking about. Words of wisdom from all sorts of people who have inspired me & made me think.
  • Foodie Friday ~ Recipes and menus, food photography, trends, you know – food news ;)
  • Simply Saturday ~ things that simply find themselves bound to Saturday – movies, books, gardening, housework
  • So…It’s Sunday ~ recapping my week, announcing what’s coming up the next week, soap news – stuff, know what I mean?

This does not mean I will post everyday but I will at least have an outline!

AND I would like to do a  Photo Contest every so often.  Working on the details of that. Will announce that pretty soon.

So…whew.  Told you it would take a while. Okay, that’s what I have in mind.  Actually I have quite a lot in mind.  But the things I am most excited about are stirring up some soap and the interviews.  Whoa, baby! So excited!

By the way peeps, I LOVE comments.  So leave me some, mmK?  I know you visit.  I have a stat counter!  But you never comment.  I don’t mean NEVER never…but I do love comments.  Nice ones that is ;) Okay, neither do I.  I visit the same wonderful blogs everyday but seems someone always beats me to the punch.  I think awwww someone already said that.  Well I have a new rule! I am not reading comments before I post mine.  If I repeat something well so be it!  I am saying my piece anyway!

Now for your Treehugging Tuesday Tidbit: Recycling Soup Cans – so cool! Click on the pictures to read all about it!

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See you happy folks tomorrow.  It will be Wednesday’s Woman so stop by!

Sep
08
2008

Meet My Friend Suz of Oregon Trail Soapers Supply!

I have been working to get this interview and introduction up for months now! But I think it was worth the wait! AND if you leave me a comment,  I will draw a name and at the end of the week and you will get a great surprise in your mailbox!!!

When I first began ordering soap supplies online for my former business Dahlem’s Soapworks, Suz was one of the first companies I ordered from and man does she set a high standard for all other suppliers!  Fast, friendly, accurate service!! Many have inquired about my former “life as a professional soapmaker”…some out of curiosity, some wanting to get into it themselves.  Let me just say, either way, if you are going to make soap, quality ingredients are a must…and Suz is the the go-to gal for that!!! You can click on the graphic to visit her shoppe! And be sure and drop her a line and tell her I sent you!

Could you introduce yourself to the readers of NotQuiteJuneCleaver?

My name is Susan Kennedy, aka; Suz, I’m married to a farmer and a great guy,
Rick, have two children, a boy, Rock and a girl Sandra, 5 grandchildren and
love them all to pieces. We live in *the boonies* and I wouldn’t trade it
for anything, I love it here. We have a small farm as well, chickens, etc.
The deer and their fawns visit all the time, and we have a lot of natures
creatures here, it’s fun to look out the window and see them.

What does your business do?

The business is located on our property which is why we purchased our home
as it has a built in shop.  The builder was going to repair heavy equipment
so since he decided to sell instead, we inherited a big roomy shop.  We
provide raw materials and packaging and some fun, decorative soap related
items as well to people who wish to soap or make any cosmetic product.  We
also provide help and advice when we can

I think  we would all like to know is how and when you started your
business.

I started as a soap maker back in November 1988 and materials were so hard
to come by that I began researching.  At that time, one had to purchase in
enormous quantities so we stayed in the soapmaking business for years until
my husbands accident in 1994.  Due to numerous surgeries, we could not
continue the business until 1998 so when we opened back up, the amazing
amount of raw materials available were a dream come true so the supply side
began and soaping took somewhat of a back seat except the hundreds of
testers, but I still love to soap, probably always will.  It’s very
satisfying.

What is the most difficult aspect of running this type of business?

Bookwork!!  That’s easy..*lol*, and another thing is when people have
developed incorrect habits or ideas about soapmaking, I feel a duty to do my
best to get them back on the right track and specifically the safety aspect
of it all.

What is your favorite part of your job?

When I hear success stories, I LOVE it.  I have been blessed to be part of
several including Bella Lucce, I adore her and I’m so proud of her.  And
many others who have made a name for themselves, knowing I was even a small
part is so wonderful.

Was there anyone that inspired you to follow your dreams?

My husband suggested soapmaking as he knew a person who did it already and
that began the quest for books, materials, etc., and we spent countless
hours studying and trying to perfect the art so yes, it was my other half
who is my inspiration.

Where would you like to see your business go?  Any thing you can share
with us about future plans for your business?

That one is difficult.  I love the size it is, I also know you have to stay
new and fresh to keep peoples interest so I will continue to try to find new
and interesting products.  For instance, we just found an amazingly bright,
true red that does not migrate.  So things like that, an awesome fragrance,
a new beautiful packaging item.  The small conquests add up to the bigger
ones.

In your opinion,  has the Internet affected opportunities for  crafters
who wish to start their own businesses?

Absolutely.  It has created both good and bad.  My feeling is that a person
should study, study and study more before offering a product to the public.
Some soapers do exactly that and my hat is off to them.  Others make a batch
or two, a friend does a website for them and they are in business.  It makes
me a bit concerned but hopefully they were fast learners.

If you had a chance to do it all over again (in business) is there
anything you would do differently?

Yes, I would have been better at bookkeeping in the beginning and revamped
my Business plan a lot sooner than I did.  A business plan is not forever, not
etched in stone, It’s fluid and needs to be gone over from time to time as goals are met or
not met and one needs To take stock of what needs to be changed.  I didn’t do that often enough.

Do you have any other great passions or hobbies.

Quilting is my love, as well as pretty much any type sewing.  I love machine
embroidery and believe you can’t have too many pillows, quilts and cushy
items around your home.  I want my home to reflect that comfortable
welcoming feeling. I have knit for years and still have probably 40-50
sweaters that I have kept for years.  My other love is Oil Painting, it’s definitely a
toss up between those two.  Any camping, fishing, outdoor activity renews my
spirit.  I guess it’s the farm girl in me.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced while seeing your company  to
where it is today?  How did you overcome or handle this challenge?

It’s likely what I have already said and that is not redoing my business
plan often enough.

Do you have any words of wisdom for women looking to opening their own
business?

I tended to take too many thing personally and in business, you have to have
a thick skin.  Do the very best you can and realize you can only please
people some of the time.  So provide the best possible customer service you
can and quality in your products and you should do well.  Not everyone likes
everything and it’s not personal, it’s just fact. The other thing would be
study, and study a lot, never quit.  See what other successful businesses
are doing and try to analyze their success.  It’s interesting to me to see
the myriad of personalities in these different businesses.

Feb
08
2008

What a FINE Friday!

It is a beautiful morning here…the sunshine is so welcome after what seemed like a very dreary 3 weeks.  I know when Husband calls this morning the first thing he will say is “Good Morning, 4 more wake ups.”  He leaves work on Tuesday of next week and will get to the airport here, Thursday night.  He seemed a bit out of sorts yesterday morning.  The last week of work is the worst.  So ready to come home and the days seem longer the more anxious he gets.  Plus evidently, not everyone has his work ethic.  DUH. He is anxious to get home and get busy on the last leg of the living room remodel.  He told me he thought it would be a while before he started another room.  For one thing he won’t come home next time because we will be going there!!!! And I think he has had his fill of carpentering for a bit.  Yes, we leave in just 8 very short weeks!  Can that be right??? WOW.  I will be posting over at April in Paris later today. 

Okay, remember the macaroons I raved about? I think I might have failed to mention the allergy issue I had after eating them.  I am VERY allergic to almonds but you know, I had to eat one or three anyway.  Death by Macaroon…sounds like a cozy mystery novel!  And I havent forgotten I am supposed to post a tutorial so I will try to do that soon too.  Anywho, I am planning to make them with a different nut flour to see how that works for me.  I have macadamia, pecan, hazelnut and brazil nut.  So…I will see what I can come up with.  I know I can eat pecans so maybe I will try that first.  I thought I might make them on Wednesday to have some for Husband when he comes home and also I plan to make him a cake.  Don’t know what yet but probably German Chocolate or Italian Cream, both favorites of his.  

Today however, I am finishing the aprons so I can get them in the mail this weekend.  AND keeping Grandson Sam.  I think we might have little birthday bash for him on Sunday since his birthday was last week and we didnt get to be with him.  I will make him some cupcakes and we will do a little party.  

OH and I wanted to mention that there is a Dahlem’s Soapworks co-op (reduced prices) going on and if you want to know more or are interested in buying thru it just email me at notquitejunecleaver (at) gmail.com and I will get you in contact with the hostess.  She has done several of these and with great success!  

I better get busy…aprons to make, book to read(check out the book club page)….grandson to play with, school to do…gonna be a busy Friday!  Here’s a picture for your viewing pleasure:

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