Pretty In Pink

As I continue to poke around through my fragrance remnants and rejects, I tripped across a duplicate of Pink Sugar.  So many of my fellow soapmakers have used it and love it, talking about what a great seller it is for them.  I took one whiff, and deemed it way too sweet for my personal taste, but I don’t love everything I make, and neither do my customers.  Everyone has their own preferences, so, with that in mind, I went ahead and soaped it.

Sweet and pink, Pretty in Pink emerged as the ultimate feminine treat.  Perfectly suitable for both big and little girls alike, the scent is a blend of cotton candy, lemon drops, caramel, and raspberries with base notes of warm musk.  What a lovely combination!  Tart and sweet, cool and warm, light and heavy.  It all comes together in a beautifully blended whole.

Pretty In Pink Soap
Pretty In Pink soap is all feminine bathing enjoyment

Don’t you just LOVE that?  I expected this soap to turn chocolate brown where it wasn’t pink or white, and instead it stayed a creamy tan.  The pink swirls are bright and sparkly from mica, and the top is a blend of my own liquid soap and melt & pour base, whipped with mica and topped with Himalayan pink salt.  The soap itself is a total skin treat containing rich coconut milk for a creamy, silky lather that will leave your skin feeling soft and supple, never tight and dry.  (I pilfered a bar for my own shower, so I know first-hand just how awesome this soap is.)  While this fragrance will likely never become a personal favorite of mine, I do enjoy how the scent mellowed and warmed in the soapmaking process; the musk came out more.  You can pick up your own bar of this special edition soap by clicking here, but quantities are very limited.

What sorts of scents do you like to use?  Would you use something so feminine, or do you prefer a different genre of fragrance?

Brunswick Stew – My Weekend Creation

For a while, I’ve been wanting to make some homemade Brunswick stew.  I love this stuff, and when I was growing up, I would get it every time we went to O.T.’s, this awesome barbeque joint.  It was sooo good!  That restaurant has long since gone out of business, and OT died several years ago, so imagine my total happiness when one of his sons brought a big ol’ pot of Brunswick stew to homecoming at my home church one year!  I’ve found some really good Brunswick stew at a restaurant down here, but at over half an hour away, acquiring it for myself requires some forethought, determination, and money.  At any given time, I’m lacking one of those.

So, it was time to try making it for myself.  I didn’t want to freeze a bunch, so I decided it’d be a great time to experiment with pressure canning again.  First, I found a recipe to try and opted for this one.  (I have a couple more recipes I want to try.)  Then I found out how to can this.  I knew I’d have to pressure can it, but I had to figure out the time and pressure.

Pressure canner
My pressure canner

I made up a big, tasty batch of Brunswick stew in my stock pot (and dried some apple slices at the same time).  Oh, my gosh, did our house smell amazing!!!  Then came time to pour the stew into jars and start the canning process.  These are the jars after they’d finished processing and resting for a little while.  Check out these closed systems of delicious awesomeness!  It was so fascinating watching the vegetables and broth simmering and moving about in the jars!


After the jars had cooled down, it was time to label them.  I’d created this label design a few years ago when I first started canning salsa.  I guess I’m just used to labeling everything I make.

Jars of Brunswick stew
The jars of Brunswick stew labeled and ready for storing, sharing, and eating

Our youngest daughter asked if we could have chicken salad sandwiches for dinner.  Our oldest asked if we could have Brunswick stew, so we broke open a jar.  Some of our jars had more broth than “stuff” – meat, veggies – so I had decided we’d use those so I could pump them up with extra chicken and vegetables.  I opted to add extra lima beans and potato, as well as a handful of peas.  Doesn’t that look totally delish?

Brunswick stew in the bowl
Tonight’s Brunswick stew ready to eat. Yum!

I’m all hyped about canning some great foods this fall – pie fillings, spaghetti sauce, chili, applesauce, and apple butter.  I think every weekend will see one new batch of something going through the cooker; this will enable me to dedicate the kitchen to different things at different times, because I’ve got a BUNCH of soap to make, too.  There is so much joy in making something by hand that I can share!  You see, I make soaps to use and sell, but canning stuff is for us and others.  I can use it to barter for local farm goods, as gifts, and for us.

Have you ever done any home canning?  What’s your favorite thing to put up?

How Indies Beat Stress

I am a member of a great organization called the Indie Business Network.  There are oodles of benefits to being an Indie, but I would have to say that our Facebook group jumps up to the number one reason for me.  It’s like having a support group at my fingertips 24/7 for anything – questions about business; rants about the increased cost of shipping; or support when home, school, and business all overwhelm me.  It’s also a great place to celebrate that huge stack of wholesale orders and to laugh with other business people.  I know from experience that, when one member is just totally sinking, the leader of the organization, Donna Maria, will reach out to that member by email and/or phone to lend personal, one-on-one support and guidance.  Been there, done that, still enjoy putting that guidance into practice.  (“Mom, can you wash my clothes after my sister’s?”  “I’m not in charge of laundry.  You’ll need to ask your dad.”  Oh my gosh, that felt soooo good to say yesterday!!!)

There comes a time in every Indie’s life and business, though, when the stresses get to be too much.  Money is tight, supplies are low, and when you go to look for your customers, you hear crickets instead of cash registers.  On top of that, one of the kids is sick, the cat has to go to the vet, and the septic tank is backing up.  What’s a business owner to do?

This came up for discussion this week in our group, and I offered to compile all the suggestions, including some of my own, into a blog post to share with everyone.  We all have our own unique ways of handling stress, and you hopefully can find inspiration from our ideas.  I promised anonymity, so there will be no names attached to these.

Drunk elephant riding

(1) “Get drunk and ride an elephant.”  One member did this as part of her personal retreat to re-evaluate her business.  It’s come to represent to me doing something so totally different from your personal norm that it shakes up how you view things.  Closely related to this is…

(2) “If there’s no elephant available, get drunk and ride a hot guy.”  Because, seriously, unless you’re in Asia, Africa or a zoo, elephants are hard to come by.  Sex is great stress relief!  (My husband suggested making the UPS guy verrrry happy.  Hmmm…  “What can Brown do for you?” just takes on a whole new meaning when you put it that way, doesn’t it?)

(3) Spend time taking care of you first.  I love this message about taking care of yourself for 24 hours.  Do things just for you.  Call it being selfish, if you will, but that time can make you such a better parent or business owner.

(4) Cuss.  A lot.  Loudly.  To hell with acting and sounding like a lady!  If a man building a house were to hit his finger with a hammer, he’d be cussing up a storm.  A woman building a business takes her hits, too.  She should feel free to express her anger, hurt, and frustration in crude, primal ways.

(5) Be in the moment.  Do what feels right for you in that moment.  Cry.  Laugh like a maniac.  Whine.  Gripe.  Scream.  Experience the catharsis.

(6) Enjoy some chocolate and wine.  Dark, milk, or white.  Liquor-filled or basic Doves.  Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, or Sweet Muscadine.  Indulge responsibly.  I have found that a glass of dry white accompanied by some dark chocolate m&m’s can greatly improve my outlook on life.

(7) Get yourself into some hot water.  Whether your prefer a milk soak, bubble bath, or bath salts, grab a book, maybe some wine or chocolate, possibly even the guy from point #2, and sit back in peacefulness.  Leave your stress in the tub and watch it go down the drain.

(8) Escape.  Take 15 minutes to yourself.  Take half a day for a trip to a day spa.  Take a night away in a B&B.  Take two nights.  Or three.  Or a week!  Unplug.  The world will survive without you for a few days.  Close the doors on the business for a while and come back refreshed and recharged.  I try to take 15 minutes to myself each evening and an overnighter at least every other month.  These times away from my business and family make me a happier mom and a more productive owner.  As I said in our group, I love my girls, and I love them even more after some healthy separation.

(9) Exercise.  Yoga, running, walking, lifting weights or whatever works for you.  Just do it.  Get those endorphins going and cleanse your mind as your sweat out the stress.

(10) Finally, reassess.  After going through any or all of these de-stressing routines, determine what you are gaining from your business.  Is it spending money?  Is it extra income for your family?  Is it the reward of being your own boss?  Your business should be benefiting you in some way.  If it’s not, then it’s time to assess whether this is the best choice for you.  Stepping aside and looking at your business from a new angle can help put things in the right perspective.

I’m sure you have your own ways of beating back stress, frustration, and hopelessness.  What works best for you?  Share them so we can learn from each other.