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Fonts and Lotion

I happily got a big order of goat’s milk lotions and got to enjoy playing with scents that haven’t been ordered before. They’re kind of like toys in a chest. I’m always tickled when the less popular toy gets picked out of the pile, so it also gets a moment in the spotlight. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the total filled (large are 8 oz and small are under an ounce)

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I decided to start the new fonts on these labels. I figure this gives me a chance to see what seems to fit just right and helps me to decide if I want to use certain fonts for lines, specific products, or what.

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I totally love the variety on the labels. I think they give whimsical and professional vibes to the products, too. I’m so tickled with the font used for the strawberry jam and then I think the one for the Shea has a great multipurpose look to it, so I helped draw the eye to it just a tiny bit. Lol.

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I’m really proud of completing the near 100 oz order in a timely manner for once (thank you cold for giving me that little break!) and that I’m doing doggone well at breaking out of my narrowed tried and true habits. Only thing I really need to get seriously focused on is the cancer walk event, so I think I’ll try to reblog the first poll that went silent. For now I will set the concerns and projects aside and I hope that you get to set aside your burdens to enjoy family, friends, fireworks, and yummy food. My thanks go out to those that protect my ability to enjoy the day and I wish everyone a very happy, and safe, 4th!

Silver Linings

I’ve had a hard time accepting and handling having a disabling case of Fibromyalgia and like everyone I have a hard time looking for the good in something bad.  Recently I had the incredible opportunity to see a little silver lining to being so sick.  Fibro has caused the signals between my body and brain to get all mixed up (maybe my nerve system is male and doesn’t want to stop for directions? *laugh*), so sometimes a hug or even a casual touch can feel like I’ve been punched, and leave me sore for days or weeks.  Top it all off with chronic illnesses and the feeling that I have a bad case of flu every single day, and I tend to forget that silver linings even exist.  We all have something in life that we get lost in despite our best intentions.

 

When I was chatting with a new tester recently we really dived into the topic of exfoliation and when I asked her how she applies the products on her face she had to pause to think about it (I’ll pause here for a moment for you to try to remember what fingers you use…*queue the Jeopardy music*).  We think we found a few things that she can try to do differently and while we discussed alternate techniques I realized that in learning to adjust to my new needs that I’ve also learned to be gentle to myself.  Most people never realize how much pressure they’re using or even how rough they’re being with their skin when they’re rushing through the little daily tasks, like washing, applying things, or even toweling off.  We’ve all done it, but if you can catch yourself and alter your routine, your skin will usually show the difference pretty quickly.

 

I had the opportunity to learn some fantastic techniques from a great Spa Consultant, Michelle Ayers, a few years back.  (I know it’s a faux pas to discuss someone in the same field, but she really deserves credit for helping a lot of people and showed me to describe things in more relatable terms, which isn’t a natural skill for me since I’m usually a textbook regurgitator.)  While talking about applying anything near the eyes she said to use the ring finger on my right hand, since it’s weaker, and therefore unable to apply too much pressure.  As time has gone by I’ve had to become even gentler with myself and went to the most awkward finger that I could – my ring finger on my non-dominant hand (we all know that it’s not either of my middle ones since those get a lot of exercise *sassy wink*).  Ahem.  I’ve learned that using this awkward finger has made a world of difference for me.  I never get that extra bit of puffiness around my eyes when I apply face cream as it reacts from too much pressure, plus when I exfoliate I use that finger and I don’t get that bright rosy hue that makes me look quite feverish.  I also pat dry instead of rubbing, massage the shampoo in for a moment instead of roughly lathering it all up, etc.  Figure out what your odd man out finger is, try it for a week, and let me know if you feel or see the difference.  From exfoliating to that secret wrinkle banishing cream that’s hidden behind the mega box of band aids, and everything in between.  Rub a dab of something on your arm with one of your super strong pointers (I won’t judge if your pointer is one that supposedly isn’t fit for society *grin*) and then rub a little bit in with the other one.  See if you feel a difference between them.  I have a little extra luck with that, since I have Super Senses (cape not included, dang it!).

 

Being kind to yourself isn’t always about a special meal or a vacation without kids.  It’s kind of like those instructions on a plane about putting on your mask first and then helping the child, because if you aren’t taken care of you can’t take care of anyone else.  Try to take a moment to be kind to your body.  We all want you to feel good, even when you can’t pamper yourself.  If you can manage to slow down for a moment and gentle your movements when you take care of those little things, your body, healthy or not, will thank you. 

Cocoa Massage

I thought I’d start off with a DIY recipe. You heard all about the cocoa massage melts in a previous post. I can’t get them to look prettier and they resemble cracked jagged rocks. Meh. I really like how my skin felt after testing it, though, so I want to share the recipe for those with the inclination to make them. You’ll need some molds for this, but you can even use ice trays. I found that silicone molds worked best for me, because these buggers don’t want to budge after the set. If you have a bite size brownie sheet mold it filled all 24 holes in mine, plus three other small molds.

You will need:
1 cup of grated cocoa butter (available all craft stores, etc; and always measure before grating; keep a paper towel handy while grating since your body heat will cause it to melt, so keep wiping as you go, but don’t try to grate while holding the towel, no matter how tempting it is))
4 Tbsp dark cocoa powder (from the baking aisle)
6 oz (or 4 tbsp) Sweet Almond Oil (available in health stores and some craft stores)
4 tbsp Beeswax granules (you can also grate a square of it, but if you can find the granules they are way easier)

Put all of the ingredients in a double boiler and melt over a medium low heat. Whisk it frequently. The mixture will look frothy for a while; just use a spoon to check that the wax is fully melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated and smooth work fast to pour the mixture into the designated molds. This will clump fast! Worst case situation you can pop it in the microwave in a safe container for a few seconds and it’ll buy you a few minutes.

The massage square melts with the heat from your skin. It will look brown on the skin at first, but as it soaks in, or you spread it to other skin, the brown disappears. If the squares will not set up and you find that the inside is still wet when you test one, then you can put them in the freezer for a few minutes. The only down side to freezing is that they will not look overly appealing because of the temperature differences. If they are setting well, let them sit and settle for a few days. That freezer is the last resort. Anyway, if you have any questions, let me know!
All you do is let a square warm in your hand and rub it in anywhere (except overly sensitive areas). It works so much better if someone else massages it in for you, too. *sassy wink* I hope a few of you enjoy the recipe. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me and I’ll try to help. Have fun!!

They massage in really well. If your body heat isn’t melting it as desired, just hit it for a few moments with the blow dryer.

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Catching Up

I got hit by a migraine last night, so I couldn’t stand the light in order to post an update on the melts, but I promise that I was (maybe excessively, as my husband claims, although I wouldn’t apply that term *grin*) experimenting on the cocoa massage melts. I really, really like the smell of the melts. That sounds a little goofy, but have you ever ran across some synthetic chocolate scented items that just don’t smell real? Or they are so overwhelming they’re almost tangible and smacking you so hard that you’re amazed that your nose isn’t broken? The Fudge FO gave a little depth to the actual dark cocoa powder and I’m a tad over the moon about it. *smile*

I have to admit that the texture of the melts has puzzled me a bit. Hastening the setting up of the melts by cooling them caused a super dry, and sometimes cracked, exterior. The testers that were left out don’t have the same look, but after breaking every single one of them into pieces I know that they still haven’t fully set inside. *sigh* I’m not sure which I prefer or will use, but I actually like them both.

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Despite the dry exterior the melts have a lot of pampering to offer. By letting it sit on your skin for a few it warms up and you can spread some of the melt across your skin. If you get a little impatient (*whistling innocently and cleaning the cocoa out from under my nail*) you can give a quick blast from your hairdryer and it’s the perfect temp to spread. *grin*

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The only downside, to me, is that it can take a little more rubbing than expected to get the cocoa rubbed in, so if you (or your incredibly impatient helper that wants to be looking at Craig’s List instead of rubbing stuff into your skin) don’t give it enough rubbing you’ll have some brown streaks until it naturally finishes soaking in. Lol.

One last bit I love about the melts is that even if you need to wash up the oils create a barrier on your skin, so the water just beads right up, and your skin keeps getting nourished for hours.

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See, it worked!

Melts Part 2

Please join me in patting myself on the back because I managed to patiently wait until late this morning to poke the cocoa melts. *smile* However…it wouldn’t be something that I made if it came out right the first time. *cracking up*

I poured three testers in beach themed molds so that I wouldn’t mix them up with what I hope to sell. So first I poked lightly and was encouraged. Then I tried to unmold one and it looked like I tried fingerprinting with chocolate pudding. Lol. A part of me, the chocoholic freak part, marveled at how it kind of looked like a really yummy truffle. *grin* I wrapped the entire mold of guest squares with cookie sheets and wax paper sandwiching the mold, and popped the whole bit in the refrigerator.

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After a trip to the city to get chocolate Frosties because we couldn’t take the constant temptation of smelling cocoa, and a few French fries for the dog *grin*, I pulled them out and they popped right out of the mold. Unfortunately the cold made them look a little odd.

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I have them warming to room temperature now while crossing my fingers that they turn a fudge-like brown again instead of this ashy color. The bottom of the melts, the side that was exposed overnight, is completely different.

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After a lot of pondering those odd circles which are definitely not a part of the mold I finally realized that those are where I poured the mixture into each one! Lol. I’ve never seen this before and at first I was so disappointed because they don’t look all perfect. Then I took a deep sniff of them and realized that even if they don’t darken and the circles aren’t what I expected, they’re pretty cool. *grin* I’m going to keep working on my patience and in the morning we’re going to test one. It’s hard to frown when you smell like chocolate and have some really silky skin. 🙂

The Challenge and Melts

This may turn into a two part post – it just depends how many words I can cram in under the limit…I mean *cough* how concise I can be. *grin* My strength was always in creative writing and not journalism, mostly because I love descriptions that wrap around you like your favorite fuzzy blanket, instead of a straight shooting line that smacks you between the eyes. *smile* Anyway, I reserve the right to continue this post because I have lots of ideas to share right now.

While I was really sick (actually only now am I starting to feel like a human again instead of a casing for phlegm – ewww, gross alert! *grin*) I caught up on some reading. I’m sure you probably know that I love to read and that it understandably means that I follow a lot of blogs. For awhile I had to prioritize and missed out on some blog posts. Well, one of my catch ups is on The Jackie Blog. I think this blogger is really engaging and I’m impressed that she has issued The Gauntlet to help motivate others to improve their lives. She’s accomplished a lot with her personal challenges and is really inspiring to me, especially because she’s honest and forthright about not wanting to do stuff some days. The challenge is to pick something in your life to improve that is quantifiable, for at least 30 days, and she has some incentives as well, although all participants will have the benefit of improvement no matter what. Well, I decided that I’d really like to apply the challenge to my business. Although I think about the business a lot and do a lot of research, I haven’t felt overly productive or successful lately, and I’m hoping that dedicated time with a little tough love will help both my feelings about my business as well as the business itself. So, although the challenge officially starts April 1st, I’m giving it a go now. We all know I’m not patient when I have an idea. *grin*

I totally nerded out and made an outline of goals to accomplish during the challenge, as well as a few other items to work on or consider. It’s a little sad to think about (let alone say) that I’m going to be removing some products from my line strictly because they don’t sell. My husband got a few extra days off and we couch potato-ed to help me recuperate, plus spend time together. Anyway, one show we caught up on with the DVR is Shark Tank. It’s one of those hate to love it shows for us. *grin* Just my luck one of the applicants was a young girl who is creating and selling homemade scrubs. She has a few variations of them, but that’s all. Of course Larry keyed in on that business model and said that I need to apply it to mine. “You need to focus on one or two items that actually sell instead of so many options that don’t always sell.” I understand, I totally do, and I know how he is looking at it. However, you have to have a bit of variety and change in order to find what is a perfect fit for the business and fills someone’s needs. I set my feelings aside and decided that I’d compromise by restructuring a bit, and I’ll also keep experimenting, but I’ll try to keep the new items under the main lines now.

I admit that this is a bit scary and kind of sad to revamp the business. The bad side of homemade sometimes is that every creative item has a little piece of your heart and hopes mixed in, so when they are unsuccessful you feel a bit emotional about it. However I am going to pull my big girl boots on and make bigger, and better, tracks for my business to step into.

First, several items that have never sold or seldom sell will be completely removed. I’ll have my friendly line reminding customers to please inquire if you don’t see what you’re looking for, because I may still be able to make that item, but I’m losing money by having them available full time.

Second, I’m going to come up with a brand logo that will go with the company name and product title on the main label. I’ll also probably add a label to the back for the “do not eat”, which will help to make the product label much more interesting and professional. That girl on Shark Tank had some really adorable packaging and a cute label. I know it’ll take some work and may not be finished within the month challenge, but it is a key priority to me, and one goal of the challenge that I’m really excited about.

Third, I need to finalize and implement the concept of “As Supplies Last”. I’ll use that for trying out my experiments and things that won’t be made any more, but I still have stuff on hand. I’ll see if the new items sell well and if they do, then they make it to a standard page of my website. If items don’t sell or ideas fall flat, they get a reduced price and will be removed once appropriate. It will be a lot easier than having to dedicate fluctuating space on my standard pages when they’re set up fairly well right now.

Fourth, I really want to do a sale. Larry thinks it needs to be labeled as a liquidation sale, which in my opinion is what the As Supplies Last page really is. I want to do a flash sale. I have a few real reasons behind this idea – I personally love to shop them so why wouldn’t others, I can control the time frame, I can possibly do high volume at a more discounted price for a limited time which will still make me more than slowly selling off a few at the moderate liquidation sale price, and lastly, it may generate some interest and excitement. When I’m excited about something it comes bubbling out of my mouth any time that the conversation goes idle, and if anyone else gets that excited, maybe they’ll spread the word to their friends and I’ll get some new sales.

Lastly, I have some smaller goals such as working on gift giving/boxing options that make the products even more attractive, better marketing, and some good ol’ tedious work like changing some names, editing my site, getting improved pictures to use in marketing, and whatnot.

I think I have a few months of work outlined, plus my work on trying some new items. I have the supplies on hand, so when I get a creative urge, I’m going for it. *grin* I hope to do a few featured ingredient posts to help everyone know a little bit more about a cool item and I have a few little summer recipes that I will share. They use perishable ingredients, so I can’t sell them, but I think some will appreciate them, even if they only get to the recipe via Pinterest. If there is something you would like me to write about, such as a specific ingredient or product, or whatever, please drop a comment and I’ll add it to my outline. Periodically I’ll share my overall challenge status with you, because that will help motivate me when I don’t feel well. I’ll be held a bit more accountable, even if you don’t honestly give two figs if I succeed at the challenge. Just acknowledging the challenge and putting that into the forever zone of the Internet…that helps me feel more accountable than when it’s just for my eyes only. *grin*

Now, I also mentioned melts, which is something I’ve been impatiently waiting to discuss, but I’m running out of space, so I’m taking the allowance I gave myself earlier and making a second post to accompany this. I’ll see you on the other side of the post. *big grin*

Pinterest and Changes

As many of you know I finally established a presence on Pinterest. Thank you so much to those of you that are all ready following and sharing my pins. It means a lot that I have you supporting me through new endeavors.

Other than pinning my products on there what else would you like to see there? Do you want pics of ingredients that I’m researching or is that too boring for that format? Pics from other websites of shapes I’m thinking about or scent combos?

I’ve worked hard at updating my website the last few days and it looks so much cleaner and organized now. My OCD was going nuts when I would get on the site. Lol. I have the HTML code (mostly – still needs a bit more work) to add a pin it widget to the site, but wondered if anyone would really want/need it added? I have the pin option in my viewer toolbar, but I don’t know if everyone uses one or if users would prefer it on the page. I really appreciate any input on this and on the posting preferences.

I really shook things up with my lotions. I spent days doing inventory for my end of year taxes (yeah, I procrastinated lol) and when I discovered that I only sold a couple of bottles of lotion, mostly all lotions were sold in jars, I decided that something needed to change. I looked into a drop down menu option per product, at a friend’s smart recommendation, but found that it’s just not an option for me sadly. I went ahead and removed all bottled lotion prices, except for the samples, to get rid of so much duplication. I have no problem bottling lotions if ordered that way and stated such on the site. I just need to organize and streamline a bit. I also removed items that haven’t sold well or disappointed me. For the EOY I have to take an inventory of what is on hand and found a lot of spoiled or near spoiled products. I won’t offer an item that may have quality concerns. I noticed that products with EOs added were all spoiled, so now I know to get an antibacterial or something to add to them. *writes note to self for a new research topic* Mostly I had a lot of stuff that just sat around not selling, so they didn’t get remade, and I don’t have full confidence in their quality after the time frame. I added a note to ask if an item isn’t posted anymore that people are interested in. I really hate taking away that extra bit of variety that I offered, it’s almost like hiding a child that I love *grin*, and was more sad that they weren’t enjoyed by people than the hundreds of dollars lost.

Would you like me to thin down the FO pages? Remove the ones that don’t sell? Also, do you like the basket/combo page? I wondered if I should bother with it or just list non-product options that can be selected for building a basket…?

As always I truly appreciate any and all input, plus the time to read this. In looking through the blog for pics to pin I found myself grinning like a simpleton. It’s quite awesome to have a dialogue with those that keep my little business, and me, going. Thank you and thank you for my first pin followers!! You guys rock. Yep, time to pull it out – *breaks out into my nerd dance* 🙂

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