Just Can’t Do It

Business (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

It seems like my computer is starring in a soap opera.  First, my Wee Princess spilled water on my laptop, rendering half the keyboard inoperable.  Then I purchased this great wireless keyboard, which had been working great – until last week.  I took it back to Staples yesterday, where they put the “that was easy” in the exchange.  I brought my new keyboard home, and it worked great – for about three minutes.  Then it started doing the same thing.

No way, I figured, for two keyboards to be lemons when the tech said this was the first he’d ever heard of this happening.  Then it dawned on me:  Perhaps one of the “ctrl” keys on my laptop itself is the problem?  You see, the problem is, certain keys are acting like keyboard shortcuts, so I type “n,” and a new window in Firefox opens up.  “P” brings up my printer box.  I popped both of the keys off, finding nothing that would be holding them down.

My computer geek friend, Ellen, said to go on ebay and buy a new keyboard, then go to YouTube to figure out how to swap it out.  OK.  Fine.  Because, as much as I don’t want to spend any more money, the fact remains that I do most of my business work on my laptop, so not having it perform to meet my needs is frustrating, to say the least.

I found the keyboard that goes with my laptop for a cool $12.79 with free standard shipping out of (I think) New Jersey.  Sweet!  Eastern seaboard means it could arrive before the expected delivery date of Friday.  Then I noticed that this seller has a “Bill me later,” and Paypal is extending a special offer – $10.00 off your first purchase (if you qualify).  I could get this keyboard for under $3.00.  Woohoo!  Sign me up!  *click*

But when I got to the page, I just couldn’t do it.  Maybe it’s all the Dave Ramsey books and knowledge, but I just could not sign up for a line of credit.  The money was there to pay it off quickly, but I just could not bring myself to do it.  Mostly, I was afraid I’d get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to pay it.  So I backed out of that page and just paid for the keyboard directly from my Paypal account.

So what does that have to do with my business?  Since I use Paypal’s services, they send me emails about their offerings, including Bill Me Later.  I’ve thought seriously about adding that option to my web store, but something keeps stopping me.  Now that I know exactly what all Bill Me Later entails, including the outrageously high interest rate (19.99%!!!), I can be very content with not offering this service.  You see, my family is working very hard to get out of debt, and we know first-hand how easy it is to get into debt, and how hard it is to get out of it.  As a business owner, I realize that people will use credit cards to buy products.  However, as an ethical business owner, I just can’t bring myself to offer my customers a way to get into debt out of convenience.  That’s all there is to it.  My customers are valuable to me, and I’m going to look after y’all every way I can, not just with awesome soaps and body products.

I am curious, though.  Would you be more willing to buy a product (any product) with a line of credit, or would you rather pay for it out-right?

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It’s that great earthy scent that is a flashback to the 60s, the Summer of Love and the Peace Movement.  It conjures up images of painted VW vans with shag carpeting in the back and very mellow hippie people with long hair with flowers in it.  This is a love-it-or-hate-it scent; I’ve yet to hear anyone say, “I kinda like it.”  It’s Patchouli, and if you can’t tell, I’m completely in the “LOVE IT!!!” camp.

One of the most awesome swirls I've ever done in Patchouli.  Totally wow!
One of the most awesome swirls I’ve ever done in Patchouli. Totally wow!
A close-up of that wicked cool swirl
A close-up of that wicked cool swirl

This was such a fun soap to make!  The business rule is, no one under the age of 12 gets to help make cold process soap, which, of course, means that both my girls are salivating for the opportunity to help me make it.  My four-year-old mixed all my colorants for me (there are 12 total), and my ten-year-old mixed the raw soap into the colorants.  Mom was here when we mixed and poured it, which was her first experience watching me make soap.  When I swept the coat hanger into the soap and we saw the swirl emerge, we gasped at how cool it was.  Click either pic to purchase a bar of Patchouli soap, or wait about 3 1/2 weeks for these jewels to be ready for purchase.

 In which camp are you?  Do you love it or hate it?


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This is the story of my day this past Tuesday:

It started to getting up early and getting on the road.  On the way to Beaufort  we saw a beautiful sunrise that made us happy we got up early.  At 9:00 we got to the courthouse (I’ve never been in a courthouse) and it made me excited and surprised.  I learned that if you went up to the judge with your shirt tail not tucked, with  sun glasses on, or a hat on, you would get to pick between 8 hours of prison or 8 hours of community service.

Carteret County Courthouse

We went to downtown Beaufort where the boardwalk is (it’s very pretty) and went around that area. We went to the Rocking Chair Bookstore and usually there is a pair of nice elderly women, (I highly suggest  this place to you, it’s a very nice bookstore),  yet when we went this time there was a different woman and she gave us no hello, she acted like we were just a figure of her imagination.  While I was in there, I realized that I didn’t like the way she was treating us.

If that had been my first time I would not have gone back to that store.  I always try to treat my costumers differently because I did not like how she treated us.  I treat my costumers with a nice smile, a hello, and a “How is your day?”  It is important to me that my costumers feel like they are important, comfortable, and wanted, because I want them to have a nice shopping time.  I want them to remember us and come back.  In reality, I treat them how I would want to be treated.

We then went to the actual boardwalk and walked on it.  We even saw dolphins and I got a cute little video of them.  After we left Beaufort we went to Dairy Queen to grab lunch.  We had a good time even though we had to get up early.  I hope you go to Beaufort too.  My favorite things are the Rocking Chair Bookstore and the Flotilla.

Here is a cute picture of Beaufort if you’re standing on the boardwalk.

Downtown Beaufort
Downtown Beaufort (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a very nice place.



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Don’t Be Smellin’

Last week, I started playing around with yet another all natural body option – deodorant.  It doesn’t seem like such a big deal when you first think about it.  Don’t we all wear that?  Comes from the store, oval container, maybe round or in a spray can.  No, those are antiperspirants, cosmeseuticals – part cosmetic, part drug – that prevent sweating (the drug part, the “antiperspirant”) and make you smell good (the cosmetic part, the “deodorant”),  Our bodies are meant to sweat, though; it’s how our bodies detox and cool themselves.  Antiperspirants don’t allow us to sweat.


No Pshew! Stay dry and smelling good when the jazz music plays
No Pshew™! Stay dry and smelling good when the jazz music plays

I took a peek at the inactive ingredients on my store-bought antiperspirant deodorant, and it contains talc and mineral oil.  Talc is used in baby powder, though body purists don’t like it for babies because the particles can cause respiratory problems.  Mineral oil is a petroleum-based oil; it doesn’t absorb into skin.  Take that and pair it with talc, dirt, dead skin and everything else under your arms.  Major pore clogging!  Ick!  Nothing in No Pshew™ will clog pores.  Tapioca starch and baking soda absorb moisture while luxurious butters moisturize your skin.

I use Fresh as a Daisy, and it’s stood up to every test I can put it through.  It stood up to soccer practice and a usual hectic day.  High stress and nerve-wracking situations are no match for it.  I had no rings and no stink, even through high-anxiety doctors appointments and traffic court.  Today, No Pshew™ passed the ultimate test – the LBD test.  How great it was not having to worry about deodorant marks on my dress today!  I haven’t had any body odor at all, something not even my antiperspirant could do.

On the downside, my pits did have to endure a transition period.  As my skin detoxed, they got itchy.  It took a few days for all that junk to get out of my pores.  Once my skin got cleared up, the itching went away.

These have been my experiences of it.  As you can see from the labels, I’ve had a lot of fun labeling these and coming up with great names.  Does this seem like something you’d like to try out?

Homemade All Natural Laundry Soap

When my younger daughter was a baby, I faced two separate realities:  (1) I didn’t want to use commercial, scented laundry detergents on her clothes, and (2) I couldn’t afford the unscented ones.  I explored homemade laundry soap, and discovered it is very easy to make.

First, I whipped up some very basic soap, and by basic, I mean basic!  Half palm oil, half coconut oil, very low lye discount.  This soap would get a body clean, but it would be much harsher than my usual soaps.  Not great for bodies, but fabulous for dirty clothes.  I used the crockpot to make it go quicker, then let my soap cure for a few days.

Once it had cured a little, I grated it with a cheese grater.  (I could have used a food processor for this, but I like physically making my shreds by hand.)  I spread my grated soap out on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and set it aside to dry out the rest of the way.  After two weeks, my soap shreds were wonderfully brittle to the touch, so I knew they were ready for the next step.

Fabulous laundry soap for an all natural clothes cleaning alternative
Fabulous laundry soap for an all natural clothes cleaning alternative

I put those little buggers in my food processor and processed all that soap into powder.  I measured out two cups of soap powder into a bowl, added one cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and one cup of Borax, and stirred it all together with a spoon.  Then I poured it all into a repurposed large yogurt container (clean, of course) and placed it on my dryer.

We have used this regularly, and it worked great, even on my baby’s dirty cloth diapers.  When I clean my soapmaking equipment, I wipe it down with a rag, and I wash these rags with our regular laundry.  This means, it can be anybody’s guess what our laundry will come out smelling like.  One time I had washed a load of my baby’s laundry, and the only rag I had was from a batch of Orange Patchouli soap.  Patchouli really sticks, and I had a little hippie baby for a few days.  And so a patchouli lover was born.

Using this soap on laundry besides that of my daughters, I discovered that it wasn’t quite cutting it on my husband’s dirty, grimy work socks.  They were coming out clean, but not as sparkling white as I wanted, and that dinginess was spreading to my whites.  I tried increasing how much soap I used.  Didn’t work.  I added more washing soda straight to the load.  It helped some.  Then someone suggested using Oxyclean in place of the washing soda.  Oxyclean is like washing soda, plus some.  It worked!  I tried it in my next batch of laundry soap mixture, and it worked like a dream.  It does make it a little less than completely natural, but the end result is still mostly natural, and our socks are bright white again.

You can click the beautiful picture above to purchase some of this fabulous soap for yourself.  I will soon be playing around with homemade, natural fabric softener sheets and will post those instructions for you when I do.

I wrote about homemade laundry soap at the urging of my friend April, and I’m happy to share my natural alternative tricks.  About what natural home and personal care DIY products would you like to read?

Weekend Soaping Disaster

Saturdays are made for making soap, and I managed to squeeze some time in to throw down a double batch between my younger daughter’s soccer tryouts and my older daughter’s tryouts.  I was working on stocking up for my private label account, but my mind wasn’t on my work.  I mixed my lye mixture, melted my saturated fats, mixed it all together, added the fragrance, did a great swirl, and began to pour it into the moulds.  I noticed it was getting thick kinda quickly, and I didn’t think that fragrance blend accelerated the trace.  I poured it into the moulds, and…  What the heck!?!?!  My moulds were only half full.  I stood and stared at the moulds, wondering what had happened.  Then it hit me:  I had forgotten to put the unsaturated oils in.

So, I dumped all the soap back into the bucket, added the liquid oils into it, and mixed it all together.  Buh bye beautiful swirls.  I ended up with some lovely shade of wine that I could never duplicate in a million years.  I still had a little bit of red and black soap left that I wanted to use for swirls, so I dropped that on top.  My oldest said, “That looks like a crime scene.  Not as bad as Daddy’s brain soap [interestingly enough, same type of soap], but still pretty bad.”

Crime Scene Soap
Crime Scene Soap

I went ahead and did the swirl…  (This is after it saponified; I forgot to get a pic before I put it to bed)

Here's the finished soap with its swirls
Here’s the finished soap with its swirls

When I popped these bad boys out of their moulds, I was delighted with the fascinating swirls on the bottoms.  Not all the soap had gotten out of the moulds, so the effect was really cool!

The back of these soaps turned out so pretty!
The back of these soaps turned out so pretty!

Not every batch of soap happens in soapmaking utopia, and not every batch of soap turns out to be just the most awesomest, coolest, most incredible ever.  This one sure didn’t, but at least it wasn’t the worst batch to come through the lab.