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.