Sunday, December 23, 2007

Celebrate the Season

The Holidays are here. If you haven't finished your shopping, it's too late so you may as well just sit back and enjoy some good times with family and friends as we did recently.

This is a picture of some of my family members, my Mom, daughter Lisa, and granddaughter Sam. It was taken at Lisa's house last Sunday.

We sure had a grand time.

Here is a quick recipe for a fun cocktail to ward off the cold during the holidays

A Recipe for
Hot Irish Punch


4 cups of red wine
2 cups of white wine
1/2 cup of brandy
1/2 cup of whiskey
8oz of light brown sugar
2 fresh pears
2 oranges
1 lemon
1 pint of spring water


Add red wine, white wine, brandy & whiskey to the water and sugar.

Bring to a slow simmer - Do not boil.

Add chopped pears, oranges & lemon.

Serve in a large wine glass.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Gifts

The holidays started with the grand kick off of Thanksgiving. It has been a whirlwind of activity here getting orders sent off to my appreciative customers.

The website has been receiving an incredible amount of action. The phone has been ringing like crazy and emails have been abundant.

One of the most popular gifts of all are my reproduction vintage enamelware bowls that are filled with goodies.

I finally have a moment to make a quick post and wish all of you a merry and safe holiday.

Fragrantly Yours Dear Reader,

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Things to Be Thankful For

Recently I received this wonderful customer appreciation letter and wanted to share it with all of you.

Here it is in it's entirety:

Hi Patti,
I just had to take a few moments and let you know how a small ripple in a pond can really spread out. My daughter called me last night and told me how she took time on her lunch break (something she hardly ever does) and explored your website a bit and found herself ordering a couple of gift baskets for her co-workers and some soaps for herself.

It tickled me because this child (now 27) so gave me that suspicious "what are you trying to pawn off on me now Mom" look when I gave her one of your soaps a few weeks ago. This child has always had problem skin and since being out of the "nest" so to speak, has spent quite a bit of $$ buying skin care products.

I never thought she'd switch to something so simple as a natural soap... but switch she did, very quickly and you really ought to hear her now going into the virtues of natural soap, staying away from the chemical additives (which she paid dearly for before)..

First of all, thank you for taking the time on your website and giving an education about soaps, WHY natural is better over processed and going into the healing properties of the different ingredients you use. I find it interesting how such information that was probably readily available 2 generations ago got lost or put aside as the industrial age marched on -- so again, thank you for making this information available for us again -- a lot of other soap sites just tend to stay on the selling end of it.
Anyway, getting back to the my daughter pointed out to me... that the natural soaps are this tiny bit of luxury you can give to a female (or male) friend, particularly someone difficult to buy for. And as I am discovering, the small gifts I have given to those I care about have created that ever expanding ripple effect to their friends and acquaintances.

My co-workers (who again, would never even think of buying an artisan soap) are RAVING about their gifts and I am sure, when their supplies run low, they will be poking around your site looking for more -- creating more ripples and waves as they recommend to their friends...

I had to chuckle when I read my sister Michelle's comments on the web.. I can really see her doing that kind of thing (telling everyone about her back heheh).. and she's absolutely correct in that she's a walking billboard for your products (she tells me now, "We just LOVE Patti")... It's as though we know you personally (because you do take that time and add your personal touch to things) and you've become "our new best friend".

She also tells me that she would have NEVER tried that kind of product before -- never even thought of it before unless/until I actually GAVE her a bar of the soap and told her to at least TRY it.(She ROLLED her eyes last summer on vacation when I splurged and bought someone else's soap).. now she's hooked (and she DOES have horrible problems with her skin -- or should I use past tense on that?hehehe)..
Business folks tend to get a TON of feedback when their products or services aren't up to par. I felt you should hear more of the details of just how "special" your soaps are and how much I am enjoying watching the ripples spread ever so wide as your soaps and lotions touch more and more lives...

We live in a computer age, and it is so very easy to communicate and touch someone else's life hundreds of miles away in almost an instant. All of my co-workers work in a cyber-atmosphere and we are physically spread across the entire continent. The emails getting passed now during the work day discuss the properties of your soaps and just how lovely they are -- more ripples -- I am pleased to see the ripples spread (specially with the previous "hard sells") -- and I'm sure it will turn into more well deserved $ business for your website.

I really did mean what I said about getting such lovely energies every time I visit your site. It is very evident how much time, effort, and love you've put into your business. Blessings on you my dear.

Thank you for sharing your passion with the rest of us and helping us get back to our roots, which truly is nature based.. Meanwhile, I'm going to watch the ripples spread even further -- now they're in Massachusetts, MD, New York, and Missouri... and probably spreading now into NH and Maine.. heheh.
Well, that's it.. Kudos to you.. and now I really do have to take a work break.
Suzanne Minnick

Friday, November 16, 2007

Holiday Recipe

All this talk about the holidays comes with mixed feelings. Part of me screams that it is waaay too soon to even think about it yet when I look at the calendar, it is right around the corner.

The blogsters yahoo group that I belong to has issued the challenge of posting a favorite recipe.

A favorite memory is spending days making holiday cookies and candies. Some recipes were very complicated and others, oh-so-simple.

Here is one of my all time favorites to make and to receive. It falls into that simple category.

English Toffee
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Over medium heat combine ingredients and stir constantly until mixture turns brown.
Pour into a foil lined jelly roll pan.
Top with:

4 oz. melted chocolate
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice. (optional)

When cool and chocolate is solid, crack and enjoy!

Do not substitute the butter for margarine. It's just no where near as good. Salted nuts are simply yummy and add striking contrast to the sweetness.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Old Man Tree

There were certainly some wonderful sights to see on this walking tour of Hawthorn Hollow.

This fabulous tree was one of them. I do believe it was an oak, but it certainly could be a willow since it was near the river. It was huge and very old.

It had some interesting gnarls, whirls, and mushroom growing on it.

If you look closely, you will see a face. Enjoy!

Hawthorn Hollow

It was a lovely fall day on November 3rd for a walk in the woods.

We are just past peak for the fall colors. Hawthorn Hollow is a few miles away from our house. It is a sanctuary that is filled with trails. I enjoy all seasons here in Wisconsin yet fall is one of the nicest.

We are blessed with many warm days and no time could be better to share with friends to enjoy this spectacular season.

I couldn't resist taking this photo of the crabapple tree which framed out one of the lovely paths.

Little did I know that Kenosha would have it's own Stonehenge. I was dumbstruck by the beauty. Of course it isn't a henge yet the arrangement and view from the walk reminded me of this place.

Henge is defined as a spiritual path dedicated to revering the Nature Spirits, honoring the Ancestors, and worshiping the Deities of our ancient Irish ancestors.

Our late fall is just past Samhain. Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st.

Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. For it was understood that in dark silence comes a whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the ground. Whereas Beltane welcomes in the summer with joyous celebrations at dawn. The magically potent time of this festival is November Eve, the night of October 31st, known today of course as Halloween.

Pineapple Sage From Our Garden

In recent weeks the garden has been changing to accommodate the lower light of fall. Many of the tender annuals have faded away yet there have been some striking surprises.

One lovely, unusually warm evening in late October we were sitting outside discussing the events of the day when Mark pointed out these small but vibrant red flowers near the fence.

What could it be? It turned out to be the pineapple sage herb that we had planted in the spring.

I belong to several yahoo community groups. One of my favorites is the Essential Herbal group. Pineapple sage was one of the herbs that was discussed and I just knew I had to have one for my garden.

I found the plant at one of our local gardening centers and so enjoyed planting it with much anticipation of what the coming summer would bring. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

We have been delighted with the incredible scent of pineapple when we are near this plant which is very strange in our mid-west habitat of Wisconsin. Rubbing the leaves has been a sensual delight bringing back lovely memories of our trips to Maui.

There are more than 700 species of Salvia, and many gardeners have become Salvia collectors. The "salvias" are also referred to as "sages", most are tough and easy to grow and many attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

The fresh leaves of pineapple sage are used in fruit salads and drinks. Crush a few fragrant leaves into hot or iced tea for a flavorful treat. The delicious flowers add color and flavor to salads and deserts.

I have been taking online classes in Paint Shop Pro for several months. Now you may have thought that I have enough to do with my soap making business and the day job, yet one of the things I have learned is the need to take lovely photos for my website.

It is not just a matter of taking good digital photographs. It is necessary for a potential buyer to see the products that I make here in my studio in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The photos must say "come hither" and that is the whole point of this software.

Initially I found the software to be far too daunting for this novice, yet with the generous help of the moderators for these free online classes, I have been able to rehab many old photos of my family and enhance my product photos.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I've Got Press!

This was an incredibly exciting day for me. I received a copy of Draft Magazine with my Island Wheat Beer Soap featured in their Style section.

The editor had contacted me in August requesting a bar of this soap for a photo shoot. Imagine! I couldn't have been more surprised and gladly sent them a bar of this soap.

I was hopeful that it would be included in the photo shoot but you know how that goes.

Heck, last year at the Harbor Marketplace in Kenosha, we were visited by Discover Wisconsin. The market managers sent them to my booth and they did some extensive photo work, but the day was not nice with much wind.

I eagerly awaited the show and of course told all my relatives when it would be on, but alas, no Patti's Potions was included in the show.

What are my hopes for this you might ask. Success of course and recognition for all the research and development I have put into my product and business.

This particular soap has been a terrific seller for me both at the market and with my wholesale accounts. Needless to say, I'm hoping that this unsolicited press will bring in the orders.

It is made with Island Wheat beer from from Capitol Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin. I'm a stock holder there so certainly have a bias for their fine micro brews.

The beer in the formula adds an extra creaminess to the lather, so you see, beer is not just for breakfast anymore!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Last Days at the Market

The Kenosha Harbor Marketplace is drawing to a close. I have been a regular vendor there since it all started about six years ago. This year we had to change our location due to construction on the lake front. Initially we had beautiful vistas with green grass and Lake Michigan as our backdrops. We are now placed in front of the museum. While that means less space for our vehicles for set up, we have a longer distance for more vendors.

The museum and the lake front condos also provide a wind break which is a much needed respite. It is still necessary to anchor our canopies yet since there is less wind, the Mary Poppins effect is greatly diminished.

The day dawned quite cold with the temps in the high 30's. Last week it was 90. Whew! What a difference but as awe say here in Wisconsin, stick around it will change, and that it did.

The crowds were down yet there were many familiar faces and many new ones who braved this biting cold. It was a day for sweaters and long johns for those of us who were displaying our wares for the next several hours.

Sales were excellent with many of my repeat customers stocking up for the long winter ahead. That was a good thing for all of us!

The museum is in this last picture. As the day wore on and some of the chill dispersed with the advent of a bit of sunshine, the little kiddies came out and splashed in the fountain.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Beach House

This a fabulous old beach house along the shoreline of Lake Michigan here in Kenosha.

It was a popular gathering place in bygone days. If you put your imagination to work, I'm sure you can see the fashionable folks promenading along the walkways. I still can't quite imagine anyone swimming in this icy lake. Rarely is the temp warm enough.

Today, much of the building is in disrepair and no longer open to the public. I do understand that there is one room that can be rented out for private parties.

Bloggers Challenge

Recently I joined a blogging group with some of my favorite list mates.

We have been challenged to make an everyday type of entry that affects our lives.

This photo is of the Lake Michigan Shoreline. Now, we do have beautiful sandy beaches in addition to breakwaters.

The lake has been low for several years now, but during the high water time, many places along the shore have had to place rip rap to prevent erosion.

The changing lake levels has always been cyclical. As you know, much of the US has been in a drought state. Here in Wisconsin, we have had very light snows in the winter. Oh you wouldn't think so when we are shoveling out after a blizzard. Yet I have memories of my childhood where snow by Thanksgiving was a given and it stuck around until April.

Now you might ask dear reader, why I bring this up as a daily affect in our lives. There is a saying here, "Cooler by the lake". Yes, Lake Michigan does have a moderating effect on our daily climate.

This past Saturday I had a show at a local high school. One of my customers came in and had been looking for me at the lake front where I am a regular vendor at out local market. She said it was so cold down there that she had to go back to her car for a jacket. In contrast, we were sweltering in 90 plus degrees just two miles west.

Our heat wave is now over and more fall like temps are here. That makes me sad but it is easier to sleep now.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Soap Making

I come from a frugal family. We were disinclined to treat our environment as disposable and used what we had.

The local butcher would wrap our meat and tie it with string which was always saved. Pieces of tin foil was washed and flattened for other uses. Food scraps went back into the garden.

Mom always saved her bacon grease to make the most tasty potatoes and chicken ever fried.

At some point in time, Mom decided to save other oils left over from cooking and made soap out of it.

This picture show Pam and Mom making soap the old fashioned way.

The oils were cleaned, rendered and then added to the pot in the amount that her original recipe called for along with a can of lye. She always said that the most difficult part was to find some type of fragrance that would hold so I'm sure she used some of the vanilla extract that was used for cooking along with small amounts of perfumes and colognes that were off duty. I wish I could find the formula right now but it isn't at hand.

Sometimes the soap that my Mom and my sister-in-law would make was terrific and other times it was on the harsh side and best for laundry. It sure was nice most of the time.

Soapmaking has advanced quite a bit. We now have calculators that tell us how much sodium hydroxide to add for each oil which has a specific number for saponification. We now use digital scales to weigh each ingredient and this is often done in grams. Best of all is knowing the properties that each oil add to make a well balanced conditioning soap with a lather that creates big fluffy bubbles and small creamy bubbles that cleans yet leaves your skin moisturized.

We also have access to some very fine skin-safe fragrances that are manufactured just for soaps and lotions. Many herbs and clays make fine natural colorants. We also have oxides that have been processed for some fun colors.

The one big difference in a handmade soap and commercial bars is naturally occurring glycerin. The handicrafter leaves the glycerin in the soap while the big boys take it out and use it for other products. Our skin loves glycerin. This is a product that commands a high price in the marketplace and I'm sure that the big manufactures actually make glycerin and soap is the by-product.

Most commercial soaps are made using beef tallow, coconut, and fragrance. If you look at the ingredients on a bar of soap you will see the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) name of sodium tallowate and sodium cocoate. Perhaps you will see other long complicated names in soaps like Dove. Dove isn't a soap. It is made with syndets or synthetic detergents. While there is nothing wrong with these oils and I certainly use coconut for lather, there are much nicer oils that condition and clean the skin.

Olive oil is always my base oil in any formula and it is known for it's gentleness and balanced ph for fine skin care. I also use hemp and emu oils known to help eczema and acne problems.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Colorado Summer '06

Now I should be working at a gazillion other things but I'm still hanging around the computer doing my lessons and posting to this blog.

I've been telling my family and friends about all that I have been learning with the paint shop pro classes. These two photos are further examples of the artistic expressions available to us with good software.

This trip started with a trip to Minnesota to celebrate my dear friend Cindy's 50th birthday.

My niece Heather lives there also. Mary and Cindy have adopted her into their extended families and have been watching and aiding this beautiful young woman grow her career.

The trip progressed to Colorado for more fun with Brigid and Angel.

We came across this little town with a portion of the old West preserved. The town itself was not accessible unless you paid an admission price. We had a white water rafting destination so did little more than look around and snap a few pictures.

I find it fascinating that people lived with so few of the modern conveniences that we take for granted now.

This last photo is an artistic colored pencil rendition of the first.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer Monsoons

It has been said that if you don't like the weather in Wisconsin, stick around and it will change.

That is exactly what has been going on here in Kenosha county. One day you have the heat on, the next, the a/c.

We have had several big storms in this part of the state. This one came up rather abruptly in early evening after a very hot and humid day.

It had been fairly still but suddenly the winds started to howl, the sky went very dark with a green hue and torrential rains fell. Thoughts of tornados and hail were very much on our mind at this point. It did get rather scary. Time to round up the candles and flashlights.

We were lucky. Our patio furniture and a couple of large plants were scattered but overall damage was minimal. Many parts of this town did not fare as well with downed trees and power outages. We have to do some pruning for the plants that did sustain some damage. That will be the weekend project. Nature starts what we have to finish.

If you look closely on the right side of the picture, you will see our 10 year old spike plant with nearly horizontal fronds. Yes, those are those little $1.29 accent spikes that we have nurtured over the years and are now small palm trees. Yes it can be done. We have one that is a good five feet tall.

I took this photo from our opened patio door. The spots are raindrops on the lens. Other than bump up the contrast and brighten the shadows a bit, this picture is as it was taken by my little Canon A530. That is a rather low tech camera but it works well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Welcome and Congrats!

Best Sisters!

It is wonderful to be blessed with family and friends who are supportive of our endeavors.

Our sister Angel was there every inch of the way. She manned the refreshment stands along the way. She also was on the phone to us to let us know where Brigid was on this extraordinary marathon.

Who could possibly ask for more. Oh, and she snuck in a little of the old Irish refreshment to make the painful body parts all feel just a bit better. You have to love a woman like that!

That is a V for Victory I'm told. Silly rabbit!

May you all stay strong and healthy.

Finish Line!

It took Brig and her friends 11 hours to complete the first 26 miles. One of her fellow walkers had very sore feet and had to stop frequently for some TLC. No one was about to be left behind in that heat so the group stuck together. These are some amazing women!

Denver Marathon June 23, 2007

My sister Brigid recently celebrated her 48th birthday in a most unusual way. She finished a two-day walking marathon and a half to raise funds for breast cancer. For those of you who are unfamiliar with marathons, that equals 26 miles the first day and 13 the second day.

She trained diligently for this event The weather in Denver was not terribly kind to these athletes of all ages. It was a record high in the 90's on that June 23. It was even hotter the second day.

This is day one of the marathon after approximately 8 miles. Here you see my sister Brig (on the far right). Janet (far left), age 56, from California, lost a sister 5 years ago. Rachel's (middle, age 21) whose mother was misdiagnose a year ago and the cancer has spread to her lymph system.

Brig's dear friend Gael died this past winter. A dear friend Bonnie came, from the east coast to commemorate Gael and to cheer Brigid on. The three met while on a trip to Ireland some years ago.

So what's that picture on the right you might ask? Toe savers. This was a cure for very sore and blistered feet Brig found out. Pretty darn cute aren't they?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sweet Summer

This is what we have been waiting for. Winter grew very long and with eager anticipation spring began to unfurl the lovely perennials to give us hope once again.

Our backyard is our refuge after long days in the day job. Weather in Wisconsin can be quite tumultuous with tempting days of warmth, followed by the need to turn the furnace on once again. Will summer ever arrive is the question we ask ourselves continually.

June can be a real stinker but it is finally here. The days are long and we can enjoy evening golf if we so desire. Weekends are full with the Harbor Marketplace where I am a regular vendor with my soaps and potions.

I spend many hours getting ready for my market. This year we started Memorial Day weekend and the weather was perfect until about 1 pm when the monsoons hit and we had to break down early. Sales were fantastic as customers flocked once again to the enjoy not only the market to restock their soap supplies, but also to enjoy our gorgeous Lake Michigan lakefront.

When all is said and done, it is a joy to come home, settle the accounts and crack open a frosty beer and just enjoy the fruit of our labors in what is becoming our lush backyard.

It is fully summer. The birds reward us with their songs, the honey bees gather the nectar from our carefully planted flowers with hopes of pollination for our small vegetable garden. Everything is growing in abundance and many of the plants are having their glorious show.

My mother used to work at a small flower center in Waterford and was able to bring us some plants that were in need of a good home. With some tender care we have been rewarded with these fabulous blooms of clematis that linger for weeks. The roses are happy and the spikes are once again happy to be outdoors.

Yes, we have saved the spikes for from the small accent plants to grow them into trees, giving our northern climate a hit of the tropics.

Happy and safe July 4th to one and all.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Springtime is one of the best times of the year. The trusty rhubarb plant delights us yearly with it's recurrent appearance. They require little care and nurturing, ask nothing in return but our undying devotion to new ways to serve it's bitter sweet essence.

This year I made my standby rhubarb sauce. All you need to do is clean, and cut the stalks into 1 inch pieces and toss it into a sauce pan with a little water or juice on the bottom to get it going. Cook over a medium heat just until it is soft. Remove from heat and add sugar to taste.

Serve it plain or over your favorite ice cream.

This year I found a fabulous website
Anything you could possibly want is here.

I'm posting a recipe from this site that is a real winner, but I made my own variations by making my own basic yellow cake from scratch and adding some of my favorite spices. Cinnamon, allspice, mace, and nutmeg always go great in any cake! Be creative and add your own topping in place of the sugar. Yum!

Rhubarb Custard Cake


Two-layer yellow cake mix
4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pint whipping cream (2 cups)


Prepare batter for cake mix according to package directions; turn into greased and floured 9x13" pan. Dump the chopped rhubarb on top of the cake batter. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the rhubarb. Pour the whipping cream (unwhipped) over the sugar. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Cream, sugar, and rhubarb sink to bottom, forming a custard layer. Makes 1-18 (depending on how you cut it!!) dee-vine servings.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Wisconsin Spring Gardens

Chive (Allium schoenoprasum L.)

Chives are one of the first signs of spring in Wisconsin. They peak their little green spires up through the last vestiges of snow. As the first warm days are welcomed by all of us, the little chive gladly imparts it’s freshness to spring dishes.

The subtle and pleasant taste of chives makes them an extremely popular food addition in Central and Western Europe. Fresh chives, finely chopped, are frequently sprinkled over soups and vegetable stews, and several sauces, especially such based on egg or yoghurt, greatly profit from chives. Boiling, frying or baking will, though, destroy most of chives' fine aroma.

I love to go out and just pick a few and nibble on them. Very soon they produce a very pretty purple flower. This can also be used in cooking. One of my favorite way to say spring in my home it to cut the flowers and place them in a fine crystal vase. It is incredible how long they stay fresh and make a pretty centerpiece for spring entertaining.

Try this delightful chive pesto the next time you are having company and impress the heck out of your guests.

Chive Pesto

  • In addition to making a great past sauce this pesto is wonderful over steamed red potatoes.

    2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh chives
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 medium garlic clove crushed
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    1/2 tsp sea salt
    1/2 cup best-quality extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    Freshly ground black pepper

Place all of the ingredients except the cheese in a food processor or blender. Process until very finely chopped, but not pureed. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the cheese. Serve over hot pasta with freshly ground pepper and additional Parmesan.

Flavorfully Yours,


Friday, April 27, 2007

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Yes it was in beautiful Sebring Florida with my good friends. It all started when my good friend Mary came over to celebrate handing her taxes over to the accountant. A bottle of wine later found us at the computer booking a spontaneous vacation to her home in Florida that she co-owns with her sister Ann.

The love of my life has asked what is with the two of us, when wine and the computer equate to a trip somewhere! It just does and yes we do have a terrific time escaping the dreary Wisconsin weather for a steady 85 degrees and sunshine.

It was one of our famous chick trips where we just laugh and eat quiche! Mary makes a wild salsa and I managed to not burn the croutons or chicken on our Caesar night!

Cindy had promised to entertain us with her extreme gecko routine, but the little lizard wasn’t about to be cornered this time.

Alas, we had to golf, drink, swim, roll over, apply more suntan lotion and swim in the pool. Life is tough sometimes but look at the great lemon we purloined from the absent neighbors tree!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Waikiki Beach

It has been a week since I returned from Maui - - my true home. I have many people ask me if that is where I reside or do I own property there. The answer is no to both questions. It is a desire and love affair to be sure.

My husband and I took our first trip to Maui six years ago and I truly found paradise there.

It started in my youth when I first saw the movie Blue Hawaii and I knew in my heart that someday I must go there. When friends returned from the islands, I never heard any of them say that they hated it, only that they wanted to go back.

We found an affordable condo and flight and made our first trip and have returned several times. This is the most delightful place that has everything you could want in a vacation spot; mountains, oceans, rain forest, waterfalls, desert, and best of all, the “aloha” spirit.

This trip was different for me because it was planned with my sister and nephew. We visited O’ahu as well as Maui. While I am not a city person and shopping does not interest me in the least, Honolulu and Waikiki were fascinating. There is a figure of something akin to 80% of all the Hawaiian island population is centered in this area! I find that to be staggering but given the sheer volume of people, I do believe it.

I much prefer the small town feeling of Maui. On our last day there we went to my favorite place, Big Beach. This is a protected state park and the only concessions to modernization are the rest room facilities and a few picnic tables. The rest is natural. It is truly such a startling beauty to behold.

My 12 year-old nephew’s eyes grew wide with wonder and amazement when he first entered the beach area from the access trail. The water is a pure crystalline turquoise, with wild waves thundering onto the shore of beautiful soft sand. The backdrop is the spectacular red hill, which is a steam vent created from the last volcano. The colors are vibrant contrasts of black, red, brown, greens, and the many shades of blue water. Each color is more brilliant than the adjoining one.

This particular day fell to the full moon and the surf was up. While beautiful, it was not conducive to snorkeling. I failed to see one of my most favorite sea creatures, the majestic green sea turtle. Due to the time of year, we were rewarded with frolicking whales enjoying the last of their season in Maui, soon to begin their long journey back to Alaska. We were also rewarded with a visiting pod of porpoises from La Perouse point. I find their paired and undulating swim through the channel to be an exciting privilege to view. We were also privileged to see what appeared to be small deer traversing the hillside.

My heart yearns for this place and simply feels settled and at home when I am at Big Beach. It is unlikely that I will ever leave Wisconsin and settle in my dream place, but it is good to dream of paradise. This is where I have found it and will return at every opportunity.

Aloha and mahalo.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Winter’s Lion

It has been one cold nasty spell here in Wisconsin and throughout the states. How very strange to have thunder and lightening while snowing. Driving is 3 inches of slush is no great delight either.

The folks that didn’t need to go out this past week should have been wise and just stayed home. It was ugly. I am located near the lake as the weathermen say and we do get a great variety of weather that does not apply to the rest of the state.

One of the funny weather events involved a drive to the hospital one morning. The lightening was striking directly into the ground and how I wished I had a camera to capture this most unusual event, since it was also snowing like crazy. When I arrived in the parking lot, my first thought was that Aurora was right on top of things and had the foresight to get out and salt the lot. Foresight is not a usual part of our maintenance team, so why I would think that for even a moment is ludicrous.

What I initially took for salt, was little ice balls, making the trek from the lot into the hospital all that much more treacherous. One of my great fears is falling while “and I can’t get up” echoes in my mind. Yup, must bet getting older with a fear for my hips.

Little old ladies are ladies with broken hips are our frequent Sunday companions in surgery. They go to church and never quite make it home the same day without a stop at the local hospital.

Visions of seed catalogs are dancing in my head these days as the light is now a part of my drive to and from work. I do like that. It gives me hope for spring. I am weary of the darkness, cold, ice, slippery travel, and the numbskulls on the road that haven’t bothered to invest in decent tires event though snow is an annual event in Wisconsin. And of course they feel they own the road and must drive in the left lane and block all the drivers who do know how to drive and plan for the weather.

Even though I no longer commute to Milwaukee daily, it never ceases to amaze me that I can still feel road rage at the other discourteous drivers who feel that they are the only ones on the road and that they own it. In my particular instance, sometimes I hope that it is their relative that is waiting for me in surgery on an emergent basis, while they slow me down with unconscious driving habits.

As usual dear reader, I remain
Fragrantly Yours,

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New Beginnings

It may be the start of a new week to most, but for my house it is much more. So much of January is taken up with recovery from the holidays and then taxes. Ick, ick, and ick some more. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways! Done and thank you very little Uncle Sam for making January such a miserable month.

The weather hasn’t been too spectacular of late either. It has been nasty cold here. Recently I took a trip to Oak Creek to see the store Just 4 Ewe, of my friends and wholesale customer Jan Massie. She has the most beautiful yarns and fiber imaginable in this quaint little shopping district. I purchased some yarn and made myself a hat and mittens from this incredibly soft wool. It sure has kept me nice and warm.

I digress though. February is my month to start working on all the things around the house that have been neglected since the Harbor Market started last Memorial Day. Oh sure, I keep up with the daily things, but the big overhauls have to wait until now. Honestly, I am booked every weekend from Memorial Day until Christmas with shows, markets, and of course the day job. They get me for a full weekend every six weeks.

I have a wonderful and large office with a cathedral ceiling which I love for its’ spaciousness and light. It was time to paint it though and oh my, but those ceilings are high! I had entertained thoughts of doing some fun faux finish but with two days into the project, I don’t think so. I just want it done at this point. I have one more section to go and then I can start putting some accent color on the mish-mash of furniture that I have collected. Then I move into the upstairs hallway and the bathroom.

My computer desk is so old, it used to house a 286. Yes dear reader, there was something before a Pentium! Ah, I think that was one generation away from the military issue back in the 50’s. I think my son was a sophomore in high school when we got it and he must be almost 28 by now.

I think it is time to do a little something different! And while I have priced new window treatments, I will probably just enjoy making them for a quarter of the price. I’m a smart girl and can do this.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Days Off

Days off of work are such a wonderful thing. I never quite know what to do with myself first as the to-do list is always so long.

I love to take my coffee back to bed and snuggle for just a bit longer under the quilt. Delaying the day is so nice after having to hop out of bed onto the cold floor when the alarm clock signals the start of the day job! I’m always on a tight time schedule on those days.

While I’m drinking those first cups of coffee on my day off, it is nice to check my emails and see what my family, friends, and colleagues in the soap business are up too. There is always something new to learn.

Recently we had a discussion on one of my lists regarding favorite books. The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon was a hot topic which compelled me to go to my local library site and put the book on hold. How nice is that service by-the-way! Do a quick search, place it on hold, and the library calls when it is in.

I’ve been enjoying this book. It’s mostly a nice escape from reality to a time in the distant past. It is a Time Machine type of book or a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I loved both of those books. Serious literature it is not, but what the heck! My day job is serious enough and lightness in a book is good for me. It’s nice to delay the start of the day with a book too.

Then off to the treadmill to get in some cardio and stretches. I learned long ago, that no matter what the day brings, I deserve some top time for myself and that is a nice work out. I do it only for myself because I just plain feel good afterwards and no one can take that away from me. Even if the rest of the day is not satisfactory, I did something nice for myself.

Now I can do some of the things that I love most. I have new fragrances to test and make into soap so that is where I’m off to now. Feel free to stop by my website and see what’s new!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Brrrrr! It's Cold!

It is 9F outside. Feels like –8F. No matter what it feels like, it is darn cold. The kicker s that this is now February and it is just plain wrong. Of course some would say that it was wrong to be playing golf continually through the second week in January I don’t think so.

Back in my youth and hey day, the weather was much more predictable. Frequently we had snow by Thanksgiving here in SE Wisconsin. It was mandatory UP North – yeah dare hey. November is deer hunting season and snow makes for good tracking.

Snow was a mixed blessing that early. We grew up on a small lake in Waterford and our number one activity was ice-skating. There was nothing as sweet as fresh ice that had not been tarnished by snow. It was a slick and smooth as it could be. Oh how we loved it.

Once it snowed, well, first we had to shovel and that was work. After the ice was cleared we would beg Dad to hook up the hose and flood it to once again regain the smoothness of that first fresh ice.

We were pampered kids. Not only would our dad shovel and flood the ice, he had floodlights hooked up so that we could skate in the evening, and skate we did!

Ours was the biggest skating rink on our little lake. Hockey games were the norm. I didn’t play hockey but I dreamed of being an Olympic skater and practiced my twirls with great diligence.

There was no such thing as staying indoors any more than was absolutely necessary. The snow begged for sledding and the ice for skating. So what if you had to shovel first. It was better to shovel than have the smallest bump on the ice that could cause a nasty fall.

As adults, we would gather our parents house on Christmas Day and once again skate our hearts out. We had children of our own by then and introduced them to the joys of skating. They were always amazed at the speed with which my older brothers could smack a hockey puck.

I digress. It’s cold and it’s February. We should be thinking about spring. The seed catalogs have been arriving for weeks already causing us to dream about lush greens and vibrant flowers.

No longer can we expect snow at Thanksgiving, a white Christmas, and accuracy Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast of spring.

Fragrantly Yours


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Special Days

I love my grown up children. I have been blessed with extraordinary ones. They are of the independent variety which is something that I forced upon them. I was a single mom for much of their formative years and was known to use some unusual tactics to get their attention and listen to what I had to teach them.

Yesterday, I was able to enjoy my favorite middle child. Yes I have favorites. I have a favorite first born, a favorite middle and a favorite son.

My Erin - a.k.a. favorite middle child, called me this past week and demanded some mom time. “I miss my Mom!” Gosh, I hated hearing that. She recently advised me on purchasing my first down comforter and said that she would help me make a duvet cover.

I’m a fairly accomplished seamstress but have heard something about ribbons on the corners which meant nothing to me.

My beautiful daughter arrived around 10 am and we started the project. It was a whole day affair and I’m so glad that she brought her duvet cover along so we could examine some of the finer points. Had I been doing this alone, it surely would have been a much greater struggle.

Isn’t it only a big bag you might ask? Well yes it is, but since this is a king sized duvet cover it was a bugger just getting it laid out.

We had a fine time and gabbed our heads off while working pretty steadily. She showed me the houses that they are looking at and more that they will attend open houses for. Obviously we did not work all the time.

It was a fun day with my favorite middle child. My Joey, son-in-law extraordinaire, sent some Godiva chocolates to make me feel better. I love that young man. He knows how to treat his favorite mom-in-law!

Fragrantly Yours,

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Amazing Technology

I have just returned from a mini vacation in Colorado. This was the girls annual ski trip and we all had a blast. My sister Brigid was cut off by an out-of-control skier on a catwalk and was slammed into a tree. This was not a happy event. She was fortunate to ski away with bruises and scraped and no broken bones.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people go through major airports and how much luggage is handled. A little tag with a bar code does it all. I have no concept of how a bar code works but I am thrilled that it does! All of our luggage and skies arrived safely at both ends.

Today I was working with my new photo editing program and again, I’m amazed! It can do so many things. The training videos explained so much that was not intuitive for me.

And I will post some of this handiwork soon.

Meanwhile, I caught a bit of a bug while on the airplane. With all the security measures in place you would think the air could be sanitized in some way. Today I am drinking copious amounts of lemon balm tea. I also found a terrific recipe from Prairieland Herbs for whiskey tea.

Whiskey Tea (Irish version)

1 lemon
1 teabag black irish tea (Barry's, if you can get it)
Irish whiskey (I prefer Jamesons)
whole cloves
cinnamon stick

Cut a 1/4 inch slice out of the middle of the lemon. Stick 4-6 cloves into this lemon slice, and set aside. Juice the 2 halves of lemon into a large cup (using a clear cup is easiest). Then add a roughly equal amount of honey, and a roughly equal amount of whiskey. Stir whiskey, lemon, and honey together, and add a cinnamon stick. In a separate cup, brew a strong cup of black tea - about 6-8 oz. Remove teabag, and pour tea into the whiskey/lemon/honey mixture. Float the clove-studded lemon slice on top of the entire mixture, and drink quickly before all the "good" stuff evaporates! This really does work to help cut phlegm, soothe coughs and sore throats, make you warm and toasty, and make you feel better!

Fragrantly Yours

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


In Europe they say holiday. In the good old USA, we say vacation. Plans were made months ago and today we leave for skiing in Colorado. This is an annual trek to the mountains for a handful of women to bond and giggle. Hopefully all limbs will remain intact. That has not always been the case.

We are quite the mixed group. Mary is a land developer and is the mastermind behind all the arrangements. Cindy is a nurse from MN and is our resident musical director. She always brings her traveling guitar and plays for us. I’m not quite sure what Kim’s title is but she travels all over the country for her business. That woman can talk and keeps us entertained in numerous ways with her stories. Deb is a barber and up until this past year owned her own business. Most of us that are local go to her to be beautiful. Ellenthewench, and that really is one word, comes in from Charleston and is in the nuclear business. She is another quite fascinating woman.

We are hoping that the Colorado sisters will join us. Right now it looks like Brigid the tech writer will be up on Thursday after work with her 12 y/o son, our token male and Angel, receptionist/girl Friday and pursuer of recreational activities will join us on Saturday for our last ski runs.

We never fail to have much laughter and revelry along with some reading and some quieter activities. Our condo this year looks to be another winner. It is very large and has it’s own hot tub which we need at the end of the day.

Kim and Ellenthewench are quite extraordinary skiers and we only see them at lunchtime. The rest of us are solid blue intermediates and don’t care to take too many chances but if we get into trouble, we can get out.

We've always said, no men unless he can sling his ovaries around his neck. Christopher is the exception. He has been on the boards since he was three so he can hang with the gals or meet us at the bottom of the mountain. It is amazing sight to see him fly down the mountain. It’s ever more amazing that he actually seems to enjoy being doted on by a bunch of females who have moved into the grandma generation.

Oh yeah, our bones know that we are grandmas, just our brains have not engaged in behaviors typical of grannies. We are the Golden Girls and hope to continue with these annual treks for many years more. Hopefully, as we become more stable financially, we can add a warm weather vacation also. Several in this group are certified in scuba and some have already done the Belize trip. I missed that one. Heavy sigh. Maybe next year.

The journey begins dear reader and I remain,

Fragrantly Yours,

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


I always dread the times right after the holidays
since it means that I must do my taxes. When you are
in business it is not as simple as waiting for all the
forms to arrive in the mail, crunch a few numbers,
fill in the blanks and wait for your check to come.

In my business, my file drawers are overflowing with
invoices and I welcome the time to organize and put to
bed the ones from last year as the orders are flowing
in every day for 2007. It means that I have to do
inventory and for some reason I really dread that. I
shouldn’t. It’s not hard. It’s just counting and
weighing. It’s just tedious.

What is fun is the discovery of: “Oh wow! That’s where
I put that!” I wonder what I wanted that for is the
question that most often comes to mind.

This year is the additional complication of having an
investor interested in my company. This is someone
with real connections that could lead to a true launch
of my product in a much larger venue than my little
corner of the world. My mind is boggled. He wants me
to meet with several attorneys to get the process
started. What to do first and what would be the
outcome later on? Fear of success is a true fear and
with my age factored in there are just so many more

While I am in business, getting my mind around a
larger entity that would include having employees is
something else. Yet what I have been longing for is to
get out of the dang day job and just do this.

All of this before my morning coffee dear readers.

Fragrantly Yours,

Patti's Potions Natural Soaps
Where it is always polite to
Stick you Nose in My Business

Friday, January 5, 2007

My Day Job

I am often times asked just how got into the beauty business and am I a chemist.

The answer to this could lead to a long dissertation on where I come from, which by the way is Glidden, Wisconsin in the north-central part of the state. My family owned a town pub but we moved to the southeastern part of the state when I was around five years old.

Waterford was home to me for the majority of my life but I have been a Kenosha resident for about eight years now.

I worked in surgery at St. Luke's Aurora in Milwaukee as a surgical technologist/surgical assistant for over twenty years. No, I’m not a surgeon and I’m not a nurse. I do carry other titles and certifications but that’s for another day. Currently I’m employed at the Aurora Kenosha campus in the same capacity. Some days I hand the instruments during surgery and others I’m the first assistant and ask for them.

Years ago St. Luke’s had a surgical residency program and when it was discontinued, the doctors selected certain techs to learn the role of the residents in the first assist position. I’m part of that original group which dates back to the mid-eighties. Oh my gosh but wasn’t that a long time ago!!

The adjacent pictures show me assisting on a total knee replacement surgery. Some days we have to wear the space suits. Pretty wild & crazy hey? And that my dear readers is my day job. I work in all specialties but am the resident "neuro" queen doing the majority of the "big backs". What I don't do much of is orthopedics and rarely now do I do eyes. I did plenty of that at the big house with the retinal guys.

We do all the big cases at the little Aurora house in Kenosha except for open hearts and craniotomies and I'm the only one left that has a background in those cases. I serve as a resource person to all my colleagues.

And that is the day job. It pays the bills until such a time that my business can sustain me.