Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Old Year's Day

Just to get the last (embarrassing!) entry off the top of the page, I need to post something here. And, I guess to cap off the end of the year.

That reminds me of "Old Year's Day". One year long ago, we spent New Year's Eve in St. Thomas. On New Year's Eve day, we had gone on a bus tour to Mountaintop, where you could view the entire island and enjoy their special banana rum drink. It was explained to us that on the island, they celebrated "Old Year's Day" which I thought was pretty cool. That was during our balloon flying days and I bought a suncatcher with the year on it. I'm sure it's still around here somewhere, but it hung in our window for a long time after we got home.

The shop is jammed with boxes of soap and other products ready to go to the Farm Show. So many loose ends to tie up before we get set up on Thursday. I feel like when we get there, it will be like stepping off a cliff. We have no idea how it will go. Hints, but no firm expectations, so we're trying to stay on an even keel (while panicking).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

And a Very, Merry Christmas to All...

I wanted to wish everyone within internet range (!) a Merry, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with Happiness, Health and all good things, and above all - PEACE.

And something for my soaping friends... I had a little too much time on my hands the other morning (hard to believe, I know.) I wrote this and didn't know what to do with it. Then I thought, "Hey, I can Blog it!"

With apologies...

'Twas the night before Christmas, and I was a flutter
I wanted to soap, I'd received my shea butter;

The molds were all lined, they were waiting and ready,
the eo's were mixed and boy, were they heady;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

Poppa was asleep, but I'd go the distance,
I had my plans made for my piece de resistance,

When out in the kitchen I made a discovery,
Stick blender was broke and there'd be no recovery;

Away to the Kwalmart I flew like a flash,
I banged on the doors, and I even talked trash;

The dang place was closed after Holiday hours,
everyone had gone home to have fun and take showers,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a security guard, with a wild look of fear,

With a little old keychain, so shiny and bright,
I hoped against hope that he'd help me that night.

More rapid than eagles I shouted my needs
And I pleaded, and shouted, and redoubled my pleads;

"Now, Oster! now, blender! I'm down on my knees!
I'm desperate, man, oh let me in please!

Oh if you have a heart! oh, please help me tonight!
Now open up! open up! please turn on the light!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So he to the door lock, his keys how they flew
It was so much like magic, he even smiled too.

And then, in a twinkling, the door opened wide
And my heart, it was beating at what was inside.

The store had been stocked, I was turning around,
A shiny new stick blender easily found;

I was thrilled half to death, so I paid my bill quick,
and the guard soon took on the cute look of St. Nick;

I hurried back home with my eyes full of glee,
'cause I just couldn't wait to begin this melee.

The oils -- how they twinkled! the colors how merry!
The plans were all perfect, excited? Oh, very!

The lye hit the oils and it all came together,
And the trace was just perfect along with the weather;

Micas, how they sparkled. The swirls were aglow,
As soon as I poured it, it's perfect, I know.

The scents it released as I covered it tight,
would bring me sweet dreams, all through the night.

I know Santa visited sometime that night,
the hoofbeats and jingle bells gave me a fright.

And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

And so, off to Christmas Eve with the family.

Emergency Gravy

On this day before Christmas, I was reading a series of posts about making ham gravy. I have nothing to add to the discussion, but was reminded of a Christmas a few years ago when I discovered the wisdom of "Emergency Gravy".

Our holiday dinners are pretty much set. Christmas and Thanksgiving is turkey and stuffing with mashed potatoes, corn, peas and mushrooms, relish tray and of course, gravy. Easter is ham, etc. After years of preparing these feasts, it has become pretty standard and not a panic type meal as it was in the early days.

The Christmas I am remembering was going along smoothly. We had taken the perfectly roasted turkey from the oven and my husband was transferring it to a platter when I heard the fateful words, "Uh oh".

I turned to see the precious juices running from the disposable aluminum foil roaster that we have taken to using for this job (we have a perfectly good roasting pan, but this is much easier to clean up.) He had used two very sharp meat forks to lift the bird and one of them had somehow punctured the side of the pan.

I grabbed the pan and tilted it to save what was left, but there wasn't much and I despaired as to how I would ever get enough gravy to satisfy the gang. We need it for the stuffing and the mashed potatoes that pile high in the bowls and platters.

As I poured what was left into a separate pan to make the gravy, I suddenly remembered a packet of instant turkey gravy that I had stashed in the pantry - probably when I was planning (on some former holiday) to make extra gravy after the big meal for the hot turkey sandwiches my hubby loves.

I added the instant to the paltry drippings and made some really great gravy - enough for everyone. It really saved the day, so now I always make sure to have a few packets of the instant gravy around just in case.

Sometime later my son, the vegetarian, decided to help me clean the pantry and if you knew him, you would understand this. He demanded explanations for many of the odds and ends he found. The most vehement question was about the gravy packets. We never have turkey at any other time of the year and he wanted to know what in the world they were doing in the pantry.

I absentmindedly said, "Oh, that's the emergency gravy."

For some reason, this reply elicited a howl of laughter and (since I am, to him at this time, old and apparently brain addled) a round of mockery. I laughed along and whenever the pantry is stuffed these days and he is home, he will make remarks about the "Emergency Gravy" which sets us both into gales of laughter.

Funny the little things that make memories and inside jokes.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Playing catch up

You know, I'm sure that soon I'll be able to actually catch my breath again - sometime after Jan 14 (last day of the PA Farm Show).

Meanwhile, first an update on Rudy. This is a picture of him "resting" between customers a couple of weeks ago. I think he was brooding about not being able to do his "job" properly! He still has a slight limp, but he's healing well.

We got the results back from the blood tests and, no, he doesn't have thyroid problems so he is staying on the weight loss diet the vet suggested. That should help everything.

I wish I had someone who would regulate my intake like we do his! I'd hate them, but it would be for the best. He seems to be adjusting and being the sweetie he is, apparently bears us no ill will.

Yesterday, while doing some Chritmas shopping, Tina insisted we pick up one of those Year-at-a-glance calenders. I don't mean to complain. After all, it was her present to the soap/tree/jewelry/publication studio! We always had one of these going at our herb shop and it was a godsend.

It is extremely helpful to have this on the wall to refer to when we start to make any plans. It shows any events, shows, deadlines, birthdays and holidays as we plan them so we always know when to panic!

It's nice for all of us since I often forget to mention some of this stuff to Bob or Rob so they can always check on what is coming up too.

Now, on to the preparations for the Farm Show. I think we're about "soaped out"! We have 5 shelving units full of soap. Some of our discontinued varieties are on the bottom shelves so they are a bit sparse, but we are loaded with everything else.

If we sell out, fine. If we don't, we'll have plenty of stock to take care of the new wholesale accounts we hope to pick up there along with our regular spring orders.

It's been interesting refining our new routine to produce more soap faster. We seem to have it down now and are looking forward to making soaps for the year. They are so much more uniform and will be easier to wrap (especially with the labels we are actually having preprinted for the first time!)

One more thing. I updated the soap page with new pictures of Blackberry & Sage and Apple Snap. The picture on the website are small, but I'm pretty pleased with them and thought I'd post them a bit bigger here.

The blackberries in the grocery store were gigantic and amazingly, Tina's sage was still it's summertime gray green so I'm really happy with the way we were able to display this soap.

The Apple Snap had to settle for an artificial apple - not that we don't have some real ones around here, but with the leaves and the basket, I love the homey look of the picture.

Even Bob said " wow" when he saw me open the pictures on Photoshop this morning.

Oh, and the poor glass torch just sits there forlornly waiting for me to find a minute for it again.

Well, I think I've caught up on most things and hope I can post a bit more regularly again after the show. Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rudy's silver lining

Rudy, our sweet pup had an unfortunate experience today.

We were busy. Bob was digging trees up on the hill and Tina & I were working on cutting soap and while she was reorganizing, I was tightening up (standardizing) the files of our soap labels because we're planning to have them printed for a change. Nobody noticed that Rudy hadn't been around for a while.

Bob had just come in and sat down to talk when a customer came in and asked, "That Shelty is yours isn't it?" When we said yes, he said, "He was caught in a trap up in the corn field next to your trees and I released him, but he didn't seem to want me to pick him up."

We went outside and Rudy was limping down the road from the hill. We rushed over and he was holding his paw up gingerly. It had blood on it and he was a total mess, covered in leaves and some blood. The guy who had told us knelt down with us and asked me to hold Rudy's muzzle while he checked his paw. Turns out he's a veterinarian - large animal, but a vet nonetheless. I almost cried when he told Rudy what a "brave boy" he was.

He suggested we might want to get it x-rayed so we went inside and called to make an appointment. They said to bring him in and Tina went with me while Bob stayed home to take care of business.

The vet x-rayed Rudy's legs and we were pleased to find that there were no broken bones. A pain killer, antibiotics and time should do the trick.

While he was checking Rudy, the vet mentioned that his heartbeat was slower than would be expected after experiencing trauma and then a vet visit. I told him that Rudy hasn't been himself recently. He seems more like an old dog than a 3-year-old. He seems to be avoiding the customers who he loved before. He is tired after a day outside and sore after chasing the "frogmobile" around the fields. The vet told us that a slow heartbeat could indicate thyroid problems and suggested a blood test.

So, after all the drama of this episode, it may have a silver lining. If everything turns out as I expect, Rudy will be his perky, happy self soon and probably lose a little weight too.

And, our neighbor found out that someone has been setting traps on his property and will be taking care of that problem.