Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015
God Bless Our Troops

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.

Click on the cabin below to see our family website.
We love what we do!

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's been a very busy few weeks.  Having a small shop uptown is creating a bit of a learning curve in regard to keeping on top of inventory.  Kelli and Claire have been my helpers lately.  We have been transitioning into Fall.  When there is a physical store to consider, the changing seasons become much more important.  Besides mixes, I have been working on Fall lighting.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

     Once a week I go down to Ionia to watch Ben.  On the way, just west of Carson City is an Amish store.  I had always thought it was just a fruit stand until I stopped one day on the way home.  I chatted for a bit with one of the owners, Sarah Imhoff and then made a few purchases - among them a 2 pound canister of lye for making soap.  The next week I stopped in with Maddie and Meghan and gave Sarah a bar of our soap.  She mentioned that she had been buying goat milk soap from someone in Lansing.  It turned out that the people she had been buying from are actually from St. Louis.  I know them - they've been competitors for a few years.  Sarah said that she wanted to buy more but hadn't heard from them and would I be interested in making soap for their store. I had heard that the other soapmakers had sold their goats, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't stepping on any toes.  I told Sarah I would check with them and get back to her.  It turns out that I had heard right.  They were no longer making soap to sell so I am free to sell to Sarah.  

Sarah has one customer who likes a plain, unscented oatmeal soap.  Not a problem.  Here is the batch I made.  It will be ready on August 13.  


I am slowly getting more organized, although it isn't obvious yet.  We had our annual pizza party/fish fry last week.  Lots of fun!!!  We added a bounce house this year.

Maddie and Ben in the bounce house
And we had the annual hay ride thanks to
Andy and Gina  Filhart
We went through 15 pizzas

Everyone had a great time - including us! We get so busy that it seems the only time we see our neighbors are at weddings or - more often than not - funerals.

I bought some graphics this week from one of my favorite graphic artists -  Mary's Montage  I used one of them on my newest candle.

It's hard to believe that I am already getting the sign-up sheets for this year's fall craft shows!

Today I had the twins.  They were way overtired, eventually fell asleep, and then woke up in a super great mood.

June 27, 2016

I have been super busy the last couple of weeks.  I may have mentioned that I am listening to a podcast, Etsy Conversations.  I have learned a lot about improving my Etsy shop.  I have spent the last couple of weeks re-doing my tags and titles.  I am learning a lot about SEO - search engine optimization.  My views have gone up quite a bit, but not much of an increase in sales.  However, the shop has doubled in income compared to this time last year.  I am finding it fascinating how descriptions and tags affect views.

I have also been revamping the labels on our products.  I am a "visual" person so packaging is high on my list of priorities.

Here are some of the labels I have done for our jar candles.

          The wax melts have a new look also:

                                              Soaps too!

The brick and mortar in town is also keeping us very busy.  Our dips and mixes are selling very well.  I laugh now when I think of how nervous I was about this move, but I am so glad we went on board.  The people I work with are fantastic and a lot of fun!!

I've also been working on grungy candles.  I love the Candy Cane scent even though I really should be working on the fall grungies.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had switched supplies for my container wax.  Bad move.  I am back  to using what I have always used.  The first candles I made with the new wax  turned out nice - but after a few days they looked awful.  You could see air pockets and they took on a gelatinous look.  I am so glad I didn't order a lot of it.  It is gooey and a total pain to scoop out of the plastic bag it comes in.  Ugh.  I am using it a wee bit at a time in my tarts.  

My problem with the sink holes turned out to be that my wax was overheating in my melting pot.  It heats up way too fast now. I think it might be time for a new one.   

Here are a few of the things I've worked on since my last post.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mondays are laundry, bill paying, checkbook reconciling, expense tracking, reimbursement, and soapmaking days.  I normally do my cold process soap in the evening when I know that there won't be any distractions.  Distraction and lye water do not mix very well.

The last few Mondays Kelli and I had to scramble to get mixes replenished.  We still have some to do, but I am happy to get back to my regular Monday routine.  

This week I have been making foaming soaps.  I LOVE foaming soaps.  A couple of my daughters do not care for bar soap so I have been looking for a liquid soap to offer as an alternative.  I have also been making Goat Milk liquid hand soap.  Our house definitely smells better than it looks.  

Mondays I also make sure I have a supply of stockings to take down to Nina.

I also finished the retirement quilt for Deacon Mike.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Well, Friday is my designated cleaning day - and here I am on the computer.  Hmmmm.  It's all good - my day starts at 10:00.

Alas, I had to say goodbye to my number one container wax supplier.  When the wax is good, it is very, very good, but when it is bad it leaves terrible sink holes that need a heat gun application.  That gets old very fast.  This is the second batch I have had that has not been great.  Soooooo, I found a new supplier.  This new wax is a bit gooey - like very thick vaseline - and is not fun to measure out, but it makes beautiful candles.

It has been quite a challenge to keep on top of inventory, but I think once I get used to it and do it regularly, it will get a lot easier.  

Here is a bit of what I have been working on lately

Yesterday was "work in the shop" day because I had a funeral to play for on Wednesday.  It was a muggy warm day and there was absolutely no street traffic down town.   It gave me a chance to spruce up the room a bit and take inventory.  I really need to make more of the small jar candles.  Here is a video of what our shop looks like.


The noise you hear is the creaky floor.  LOL!

Time to get back to work.  I am making slow progress in each room, but now I am able to actually see that I am making headway.  It's all about focus!  My goal for the day is the kitchen, laundry room, and living room.  

But I did take a little break to make a spring flicker lamp. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wow!  My last post was February!  I didn't realize how long it had been until Nina asked me if I had posted recently.  I took a look at my last post and a few of the pictures have disappeared.  Arghhh!!  Since February I have finished quite a few quilts.

Maddie's quilt pic disappeared from my last post so here is her quilt.

 I also finished Meghan's Quilt

Here is my quilt for the challenge at the Maple Syrup Festival.  (I took first!)

And here is Ben with his quilt.  He was emphatic that the quilt had to have combines on it.

About a month ago, a friend approached me with a business proposition.  She and her business partner purchased a building in downtown Alma.  It was a former office building and they are renting out rooms to businesses to set up boutiques.

I was a bit nervous about committing to a monthly rent, but so far things are working out very well. This is so opportune because Anna is getting married in January and wants to back off from the business.  I have taken over her end of the operations and Kelli has been brought in to help make mixes.  Melisa will join us if time permits when school is out for the summer.  It has been a challenge to keep on top of inventory, labeling, stocking, etc, but once the learning curve is over, things should run more smoothly.  Where we used to concentrate on fall and spring, I am now trying to figure out product for the year round.  We will be cutting back on our craft shows, concentrating on the two shows in Shepherd.  I will do a couple of smaller ones with Kelli and Nicola. 

I have been subbing at St. Vincent de Paul in Shepherd.  They have a fantastic keyboard guy, but he needs a break every now and then, plus he teaches during the school year so I have been covering funerals.  It is just enough to keep my hand in and I am loving it.  Most Sundays will find me juggling a twin on my knee.  Life couldn't be better.  

I have been listening to some podcasts on organizing and those have really helped me focus.  I have better structure to my work week and I have limited myself to quilting on Sundays only (for the time being).  I am currently working on a retirement quilt for the administrator at St. Vincent who will be retiring in June.  

I am doing some repair work on one of Nina's quilts and then I will be only working on a quilt for Anna and Michael.  It is a double wedding ring quilt and I am doing the Eleanor Burns applique version.  

Today was a frantic product making day.  I usually work at the store on Wednesdays, but today I had a funeral which means I work tomorrow which is my usual product making day.  We did a batch of Potato Soup and 2 batches of brownie mix.  Yesterday and today I made 4 batches of jar candles, 1 batch of tart melts, and still have room spray to do plus the labeling of the mixes we made today.  All of this is to re-stock the shop - which is a good thing. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Happy Ash Wednesday everyone,

I have totally fallen out of my routines the last couple days.

Yesterday was supposed to be a Ben day, but Harold called from Lansing to tell me there was a huge storm coming.  Chicken that I am, I switched Ben's day to Thursday.  No storm, no nothing.  Soooooo, since Harold was gone, I spent the day in my quilting room.  I worked on the guest room quilt for a while with no problems. It is coming along nicely and I am getting quite proficient at maneuvering it around the quilting table.

 Then I switched projects, broke a needle, changed the needle, and then the bobbin thread kept breaking on me. Removed the HUGE, HEAVY, quilting machine from the table.  Trust me, this is no small feat, looked around for my cleaning brush and started brushing lint out of the bobbin case holder.  Don't know if that was the problem, but it seems to be running okay again.  Note to self, dedicate a small plastic container for screw driver, oil, and cleaning brushes.  I swear, I waste more time looking for things when having a place for everything makes life so much easier.  (Yes, I am slowly finding homes for things.)

I pulled out a couple of UFO's and started quilting those, cleaned a couple of shelves next to my cutting station, cleared the area next to Lena so I could close the closet door - big difference.

I also started Meghan's Frozen Quilt.   I am so stinkin' proud of my perfect pinwheels.  But take a close look at the picture.  See anything wonky?  I will use those two for the other border.

Monday was my usual soapmaking day.  I have been eager to try a new fragrance.  It's titled Mardi Gras, but the scent reminds me of times spent at my Grandma and Grandpa Caputo's house.  In my memories it is always late winter or early spring - usually Lent.  My grandparents had a set of statues that Grandpa brought from Italy.  There were originally three of them, but one was broken so Grandma told my Aunt Molly to take them home with her.  Last summer she and my Uncle Tom gave them to me because they knew I had always loved them.  Uncle Tom insisted that we take them home with us after our last visit.  A month later my Uncle Tom died.  I am calling the soap Tarantella

I love how the soap turned out.  It is swirled with lilac, green, and gold

On Monday's I also package soap that has been curing for a month.  It is another new one I call Anointing.   To me it smells just like the Sacred Chrism used in baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations.

Yesterday I received an order for a full batch and a half batch of soap.  I was so excited.  Then I realized that I had listed the wrong price on the website.  Basically, it is going out the door for the cost of the materials.  However, it is a cousin who ordered it, so that's some consolation.  You can bet I fixed it on the website.  LOL   Ya lives and ya learns.

I have been teaching Claire, Maddie, and Meghan to quilt.  When I started they were 4, 5, and 8.  We began each session with a discussion about keeping fingers away from the needle.  They have each made a small quilt.  However, my sewing room is not very big (nor very organized) and it gets crowded trying to have them all in there.  I have been looking for a small, lightweight, sewing machine that they can use at the kitchen table.  I found this at JoAnn.  It weighs about 5 pounds, is speed controlled so they can more easily sew a 1/4 inch seam, but I need to mark the bed for a quarter inch.  It  doesn't have a light, though, but I have several small Ott lights that can do the job.  The machines come in some really cute colors. I only ordered one, but if it works out, I will probably get one for each girl.  They are already fighting over who gets what color.