Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Better late than....

Okay, Okay, I have an excuse!

We went off delivering orders on Monday. Here are a few of the seasonal offerings we saw at an Amish roadside stand (one of our delivery spots.)

Ya think it's Autumn? Everything on his front porch screamed FALL!

Little gourds, Mini Indian corn bunches and mini pumpkins. All sorts of wonderful things to put together into a nifty Harvest centerpiece.

While we were out, we took samples of our new Holiday scented soaps along. We called on a few of our customers to show them the new soaps and, bingo... new orders.

We took a look at the shelves in the shop and realized we better get cracking making soap! Here's the result:From left to right, it's Wise Guy, Apple Snap (seasonal), Bayberry (seasonal), Chocolate Fudge (special order), Holiday Spice (seasonal) and finally Lavender. 6 batches is a lot to do in one day, but we still need more! We'll get these all cut, trimmed and tucked away and then go for another marathon day! (Quick, before it's time to get the magazine out next week!)

But, on to the beads...

These are what I would call the inspiration beads for something that has been requested. I made all these "party in a bead" some time ago. Actually, I should post the earrings I made from a pair of these (that match) but I don't have a photo right now.

A friend/customer saw my earrings and asked me to make a bunch more for her to put in her shop.

Of course, as soon as I have a request - and for something I really love to make - I lose interest in making that type of bead!

These are the only "set" I managed to produce and I really like the color combo and the design; however, the sizes certainly bear no relation to each other! I call this bead "Oceangoing", by the way.

So, not to be swayed from the torch, I worked some more with these colors and produced:

These guys!

I do love this style. I've been making a lot of them in different color combos and other people seem to like them a lot too.

Sometimes, it's just hard to sit and make anything over and over. On the other hand, sometimes it's so easy to just make a set because the design is new or inspiring.

I only managed to produce one bead like the one to the right. I've done this exact bead in a set before and really love it. It's called "Wild Salmon"! I've made a vessel in these colors, too. I guess I'll have to finish off this set and the one above. Both are made with my favorite pale emerald green and I'm really taking a liking to the silvered ivory that "belts" the half and half bead above,

Sunday, September 24, 2006

As the seasons change

At the end of Summer, we have some of the most luxuriant growth on our plants. So, before the frost, I thought I'd take a few pictures.

I've been trying to grow sunflowers in front of the shop for some time now and something always seemed to get in the way. One year, they were doing well and some creature came along and just chopped them down. It may have been the resident groundhogs or maybe just a bunny with an itchy chin.

I gave up and then this year, my husband and son decided to plant sunflowers on the side of the one bird cage/aviary so the birds would have some nice shade in the heat of the summer.

It worked very well, and while they were planting, they planted some seeds in with the gourds and a few in front of the shop.

This one is a result of that planting. It is a little later blooming than the enormous ones in other places in the yard, but it is also perkier and quite attractive to the bee in the center, who waited while I came inside and grabbed my camera.

Another plant that has challenged me for years is the Rosa Rugosa. I fell in love with this rose and with its juicy hips one autumn, years ago, at the Cape May, NJ. The brilliant color of the rose alone is reason to grow them and I love the texture of the leaves.

My sister and I felt we had to taste the fleshy orange hips. After trespassing across a hotel lawn to acquire a few, we were pleasantly surprised to find them pretty good. They are touted as a good source of vitamin C and, sure enough, there was a hint of citrus fruit in the flavor.

The juicy red things in the second picture are the hips. I have the definite feeling that rose hip jelly is somewhere in our near future!

I have purchased a few of these over the years, but it seems I often make the mistake of planting certain plants in the path of future construction or in a place that is too distant to inspire the babying they sometimes need to get a good start.

Again, this time, my husband (the one with the greenest thumb!) decided to buy a number of these plants and populate a hill with them. He is hardy enough to get out in the bright afternoon sun and weed them! The hillside is doing quite well and if all goes well, they will have taken over so completely by next summer that the weeding will be a thing of the past.

Just as a teaser, I expect to take a few things out of the kiln today worthy of blogging, so, until tomorrow....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The rain is gone.... for now

Well, the rain was gone (it's returning later today though), we did a bit of exploring yesterday in the woods and in the pond.

A few weeks ago, Tina and I had found Spiceberries starting to ripen on the trees in the woods. We picked as many ripe ones as we could find thinking they'd be a great addition to the still experiments. Then, we decided we'd be back in the next week or two to clean up all the berries still ripening. One week led to another and when we checked yesterday, they were gone. I guess the birds and animals in the woods think they smell as tasty as we did.

On our way back up the path, we saw another plant that we didn't know, but it held these bunches of berries.

We brought a sample up to the shop and began consulting field guides. Seems these are Black Haw berries.

From what we could find, the bark of this plant is a substitute for cramp bark and also, some people make jellies with the berries. There was one ripe (black) berry in this bunch and we both tasted it. It was pretty bland.

As we passed the pond, there was a disturbance on the surface and when we looked closer, there were a large number of fish swirling, then stretching out in a block, swimming a bit and then swirling around fallen leaves, etc. The "disturbance in in the rough little oval I drew on the picture.

When we moved in the pond was clear and housed a large school of big goldfish. In the winter, on a warm day, the fish would swim around the top of the water and we could see them from our living room window.

A flock of ducks - bought as day old chicks in a box which looked much smaller than it was - had taken their toll changing the chemical make up of the pond. Bass (carnivorous fish) had been added and they ate most of the resident goldfish. Duckweed which had been clinging to other plants we added over the years had taken over the pond.

This is a huge discovery. My husband, Bob, has been working on the pond for the past 2-3 years, trying to bring it back to its former glory. He added a few "goldfishy-type" fish this spring and they seem to have multiplied.

It's difficult to get a good picture of the "gang", but here they are. There are a number of apparently adult fish in their full colors and the more immature ones seem to be mostly drab colors, but by this winter or spring, I'll bet we'll have the colorful display we loved 20 years ago!

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Social Whirl!

What a weekend. I have no pictures to share, but just had to write about this.

We are usually boring homebodies - just ask our son - so this was a very unusually social 3 days.

First, the usual Friday dinner was even more lively than usual. Our son brought a friend, Molly, home with him this weekend and for a change, I prepared a meal that even Rob could eat. We all sat down to a large pan of stuffed shells with meatballs on the side and laughed and kidded through the entire meal. Lots of reminiscences, some a bit shocking but all funny. As Rob gets older, there is less and less censoring, so the kids got a pretty vivid picture of who we were way back when. I think they were entertained and Rob didn't seem to be "too" embarrassed by his crazy family.

Saturday, it was the Sizzlers' meeting. It seemed that life had gotten in the way of most of the "regulars", so the core group was Rachel and me. Luckily, we were joined by Lesliediana from Arlington (yep, Virginia) and two Traci's who we met at the Lebanon show.

I really don't think I have had so much fun with a group of women in ages and that's saying something because most of the Sizzlers meetings are a blast. We snacked and bonded and just laughed uncontrollably most of the afternoon. Then my darling husband, Bob, grilled some burgers and we sat down to eat even more. Someone asked when the stripper was coming, just as Rob and Molly returned from their travels. Rob walked into the room and one of the Traci's said, "You must be the stripper!" You have to know our reserved son to imagine the expression on his face! Molly was quietly amused.

It was one of those wonderful things that happens when a group of relative strangers just clicks. At first, I was worried because many that we were expecting weren't able to come. I wish everyone could have been there to enjoy an uproarious day. We even discussed beads and jewelry!

So, I thought I could take a deep breath on Sunday and recover. Tina and I went early to pick up some stain for her wicker kitchen set and worked a bit on that. Sometime in the middle of all this, Rob and Molly headed back to school. Then, I had promised to mow the yard and I came home and zipped around taking care of that. A quick shower and off to our next gathering.

I had almost forgotten that we were invited to an "impromptu surprise wedding reception" for some friends in the afternoon. Our friend, Brian, often invites a group for dinners. It's always fun, but this time, he had a purpose. He is the head steward on a cable ship and was out at sea when Kelly and Scott were married this summer. When he called to invite us, he told me they had served cupcakes at their wedding and didn't have a proper cake, so no top layer to freeze and eat next year on their first anniversary. He planned to correct that!.

We all brought cards and some small gifts - in our case a box of assorted soaps. It was nice and again it was a group of casual friends who got along great.

After dinner was finished, we prepared for Brian's usual fabulous dessert. He entered with a two tier wedding cake. Kelly and Scott were overwhelmed, but did the traditional cutting of the cake and attempted to smear cake and icing on each others' faces... They are an adorable couple and its clear they know how to play together.

Anyhow, that was my weekend. It was so nice to enjoy family, new and old friends getting along and having fun together. I feel like I packed a good portion of my annual socializing into one three day period - now, sigh, back to work.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Rain, rain....

Rudy's expression pretty much says it all. We really needed the rain, but you know, enough is enough! The past few days, we've received some much-needed rain, but the inactivity is taking it's toll on all of us.

Today will be much better, clearing on the horizon and nice cool, clear weather for a few days.

We made some soap on Tuesday and really need to make some more, but just seem to be putting everything off.

I haven't even lit the torch for days and days. There seem to be so many things I need to do, but I just am not doing them.

Family for dinner tonight and a Sizzler's meeting tomorrow, plus kids home for the weekend from college.

I'll take a big breath on Sunday and dig back in!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Lots of things going on, nothing really Earth-shattering.

Yesterday, we went to visit (and feed!) our son at Ursinus College. It's not a very long trip - only 1-1/2 to 2 hours and I really don't know why we haven't visited him more since he started last year. Part of it is that he comes home pretty often. Apparently the driers at school don't work! He does his own laundry so I really can't complain and it's good seeing him and meeting the friends he brings along.

I snapped a picture of the cooling towers at the Limerick nuclear plant. It's pretty close to Collegeville, so it seems he's moved from the shadow of TMI to the shadow of Limerick.

This, though is what I've been working on lately. I was asked to make 12 aromatherapy vessels for a well-known essential oil company and thought I'd give it a shot.

Originally, I resisted because I would really prefer not to do anything resembling production. There's enough of that in the soap business.

I can't seem to do more than 3 or 4 at a sitting, but I did get them done. They are the Caliente glass that I love.

I broke down and ordered a few other colors. Probably not enough of any of them to do another full order, but plenty of experimenting. Some are reducing colors. In other words, the metal in the glass rises to the surface when they are flashed in a reducing flame (propane heavy rather than oxygen heavy which is called an oxidizing flame).

I'm also working on an autumn necklace which will include all the leaves I made a few weeks ago. I wanted to make some acorns and some oak leaves to add to it and while we were visiting the campus yesterday, I found some fallen acorns to use as models.

I have tried making acorns before, but they look more like a male body part! Maybe with real models in front of me, they'll look like what they are supposed to be!

On the other hand, the oak leaves I have made before actually have turned out pretty well. We'll see.

Today, we're probably going to make some "seasonal" soaps for the holidays. A bayberry for sure and probably something apple-y and spicy for fall.

Tina already reported on the Colonial Day show we did this weekend. I was saved by some prior orders that I have to deliver at the show and actually, the jewelry went all right, but nothing like what we had imagined.

I'll try to get back on a routine of posting again. It seems I often forget my camera and I really don't like to post without a picture!

I did want to mention the memorials yesterday and how touching it was watching the people who had lost loved ones 5 years ago. Yesterday, as we drove down to Rob's school, I was surprised at all the billboards and signs in memory of the disaster and I was also surprised at how raw and close to the surface all those memories and emotions still are. Even though I didn't lose anyone close to me, we as a nation lost our innocense once again.