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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Last chance!

I seldom do this on here, but it's the last day to get FREE SHIPPING on your order at our Artfire Studio, Use code JAMES when checking out. You can click on the Artfire widget to the right or go to

The code is James because we are celebrating his safe return from Afghanistan, help us celebrate!

(technorati D3FZMZAJQZF2 )

Friday, July 29, 2011


You know the saying, how can you get there if you don't know where you're going? Goals are that way, you need to set goals as something to focus on, to shoot for. It's nice to see that you are going forward and accomplishing things. Here are a few things to consider when making goals:
Is it realistic? Setting a goal that's impossible to accomplish will just frustrate you.
What things would be your obstacles? How would you overcome them? Make a plan!
How will you measure your results?
Set a timetable, in other words, "I will own a BMW 8 series by my 25th birthday" (that's a big goal!)
Write it down, commiting it to paper makes it more real!
Envision it happening!
Little rewards, do reward yourself as you are getting closer, and remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, it was however built, ya gotta start somewhere!
What are some of your tips for achieving your goals?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rubber Ducky Derby

You may see the volunteers from the Childrens Hospital at the local area Farmers Markets. The 20th Annual Rubber Ducky Derby is almost here! It's a most fantastic cause to support, they help so many families with children in need, regardless of the family's ability to pay. For more information, please go to

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


If's difficult to tell you where to find a mentor. I was very lucky when I first started doing the Farmers Market and was very new at business in general, one of the vendors there took me under his wing and I learned so much from him, I still do and in fact now I've been at this long enough that we now discuss things together and it's nice to see that he respects my opinion on things. When I was very new to doing Markets, I had no idea which ones would be a good fit, he recommended the Pleasanton Market and was right, it was a great fit. In finding a mentor, they will save you a lot of wasted time, you can glean alot of knowledge from their experience. I hate wasting energy and not really accomplishing things "spinning your wheels" as they say.
There is an organization that is made up of retired professionals called
S C O R E and I understand they offer some great services to help you along.
I hope you find someone that takes you under wing as well, soon you'll be flying on your own!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On a personal note

You may know I have 3 grown sons and I am extremely proud of all of them. My oldest son is in the Army and just getting back from Afghanistan and I'll finally get to see him today, I can't tell you what a long year this has been.
My middle son works for the Dept of Corrections, so he's what they would have called "one of the good guys" in the old western days, he's such a good man. He's alwasy very thoughtful and generous.
My youngest some of you may know. I look to him to be the entreprenuer in the group, like me, his grandfather, great grandmother and great-great grandmother. Makes you think there is something in that nature or nurture thing. I'm not sure exactly what he'll be doing yet, something with cars, but he definately has the gift/insight for it. I know I can always count on Cody to be my "sounding board" he has a good head on his shoulders and is not afraid to tell me what he thinks (believe me!).
So that's a little peek into my life, I am blessed to have such amazing sons.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


My project of the week, will be to make a sign frame like the one shown. Thanks to the folks at Alhambra Pears and Beef for their kind permission to copy their design.(check them out some time, they have incredible stuff!) It's a frame that will hang on the front of the tent, up high, but face the people walking by, the ones not already facing the tent, so you can see it from a distance since it sticks out that way. I love that the frame is mostly made from PVC pipe, I already use that stuff for my weights (My sweetie made those for me) and my table legs to make them higher. I just love the design of this, it's the best I've seen, so after I get that made, I'll have a banner made in vinyl, it will last longer that way. I hope you can see the details, I took it with my phone!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Invisible Man Returns

I love old movies, espcially old horror movies, although this one wasn't scary at all. It was made in 1940 and had Vincent Price in it. I thought the special effects were pretty good for something that old. Alan Napier (Of Batman fame) was also in it although I didn't recognize him at all. If you get a chance, its a lot of fun!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Artful Blogging

As far as I know, this is the only publication on blogging. It's put out by the folks at Somerset Studios, so you know it's a beautifully done magazine. It's around $15 at the news-stand. I think the pictures are very inspiring, although the particular issue pictured didn't give me any hints as far as technique, things that would help me to run the blog better, that's really what I was hoping for. I think I will get future issues, just for the inspiration aspect of it, but would have liked to see a little more substance. Do check it out, it comes out quarterly.

Thrift Shops

I am in favor of reusing things and of course things that are old and have character are just the best! I love things that are time worn, may tell a story and still have so much to give.
We have a little thrift store here in Antioch (On I street) called "Nifty Thrifty" and it's crowded, but I always find something good there. It's my favorite place to find baskets, we went yesterday and I found just the right one!
The thing I love about this shop too, is that the money made, goes to support adults with disabilities. It's always a very friendly place and you just can't go wrong. Do you have a little gem like that in your area?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Olive Oil

So I will be using a different Olive Oil for the next 30 or so batches, and it's really interesting to me the difference the olive oil

can make. As you can see by the pix, one set of soaps are much darker than the others. Making any kind of change can at times have dire consequences, you can actually have batch failure. The really only thing I was concerned about was the heat, I ended up "soaping" at the hottest part of the day and some of the soap did overheat despite my best efforts at working with lower temps. We'll see how they come out this afternoon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dakota Spice

People have been asking for a spicey soap so I put this one together, it has Chai Tea in it and it's been doing very well at the Markets. One of the things I love about the Markets is that you do get instant feed back from your customers. The name comes from my beloved Dodge Dakota truck that I used to have, he saw us safely to many Markets over the years, so the name is in homage to him, where ever he is! (I still miss him, he was such a good truck)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I don't know if you guys are big on granola, but I have a couple of favorites to tell you about. One is from Lafayette Loree and is available at the Walnut Creek Farmers Market (Sunday, on Locust behind Target) and Diablo Foods, very yummy, and the second os the one I just discovered, from Way To Life and they are based in Antioch, like us!
If you are a label reader, and I urge you to become one if you aren't already, you will see exactly what's in the food you are nourishing your body with, you really NEED to know that! So right now I just enjoyed a bowl of Gourmet Cocoa Granola from Way To Life and here are the ingredients: organic rolled Oats, steel-cut oats (more of the natural oat, processed less),sunflower seeds, organic flax seed meal, sesame seeds, coconut, organic agave syrup, cocoa powder, brown rice crisp, canola oil, vanilla extract. I love that there's not an artficial thing in there, and I also love that the crunchy bits are a nice size, not like you're trying to eat a golf ball! They are at several area Farmers Markets, I usually see them at Antioch Kaiser on Thursdays and Kaiser Vallejo on Fridays. Here's a number in case you want to find out where else you can get their fabulous product 510-517-4244. The website is
Whatever you eat, try to get a peek at the label, it's important to your health! (not to say I don't indulge in less than healthy now and then, but I do make the effort to eat right!)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Peeking at blogs

I love to look at other people's blogs, not just for content, but for design as well. There are a few I've seen (I've been guilty of this) where it's a little hard on your eyes. Most of the ones I follow are in relation to business, although my favorites have a little of the person's life thrown in too. I love that because you feel like you are getting to know the writer a little, and if you're a customer it's especially cool to get to know who it is that you're buying your soap from! Comments are always fun too, getting to read the feed-back from folks. Murray the cat has a blog and he always gets comments, they always make me smile to read them. (Click on the banner right "thoughts of a Stripey Person to read his)
Do you have any favorite blogs?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Creative Conference West

I just learned about this conference and wanted to let you guys know about it. I think it sounds amazing. I think it's so cool to have a venue like this where you can go and learn and be around your peers. Here's more information on it:

Learn how to turn your passion into your living at the second annual Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs! This year’s event will take place August 5th-7th 2011 in beautiful San Francisco. We’ll be meeting at one of the city’s most inspiring spaces: the San Francisco Women’s Building, situated right in the heart of the bustling Mission District. We’re offering three days of learning with some of today’s most successful creative entrepreneurs, so whether you’re trying to start, grow, or manage a creative business, you’ll always find a session that’s right for you. CCE is appropriate for all current or aspiring creative professionals, including fine artists, designers, illustrators, crafters, food artists, and more. We’re proud to say that 100% of last year’s surveyed attendees said they would recommend CCE to a friend, so make sure to secure your spot early for this year’s conference.

The site is for more info

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Things to think about

When I was in year 5 of this business, I took a class through the Small Business Development Center called New Venture Training. It was a class designed for those contemplating owning a business/growing a business and we all wrote our Business Plans. The class was great fun, we learned alot and got to bounce ideas off each other, I can't recommend it highly enough. They do have some scholarships available and I do encourage you to look into it.
They also had a financial class that went along with it, that was 4 sessions I believe. Anyhow, the ONLY thing I took exception with, was the instructor said "if you arent perfectly healthy, if you even take an aspirin now and then, being self-employed isn't for you". I think if you have any major health issues you need to give a little extra thought to how you'll work around the issue, but I wouldn't let it stop me!
I think the main thing is to know that if you do decide to go into business, it will require dedication and sometimes even sacrifice. You will need to have great self-discipline, it all falls on your shoulders. But the thing is, for me anyhow, the rewards FAR outweigh the challenges. and remember "Nothing is impossible to a valiant heart" :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Keep on keepin' on

I saw this today and thought it was great : "I cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from passing over my head, but I can keep them from making a nest in my hair".
It's that way with business set backs too, you may have them (heaven knows!) but it's not them end, don't let it be the end, don't let them win!
Keep on keepin on. (I hope that doesn't make you think of the Chase Bank commercial, I am not a fan!)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Take time...

to enjoy the scenery, and the flowers. I am most guilty of this, I get so focused on what I'm doing that I forget to just look around and enjoy, you know? The days that I go to Berkeley for supplies, half the time I forget to eat, although I DO have my coffee, trust me on that, you do NOT want to be around me when I haven't had it! My son says "instant human, just add coffee". So anyhow when I was at the Pleasanton Market yesterday I took a little walk and shot a couple of pix I though you'd enjoy. I wish you could see the color on those sweet peas, they are so gorgeous! So whatever your plans today, don't forget to take out a little time to just breathe and enjoy!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

No Fear

If you've been thinking about making a Blog or website but don't read HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) have no fear. Many of the websites and blogs these days are made using templates and you pretty much just fill in the blanks. The thing I love is that they are pretty simple to use and that you can also custimize them through either the site you're using or add a custom banner as I have. I was a little intimidated about adding the banner on the blog, but figured it couldn't be that hard, and it was easy peasy!
There are quite a few sources out there for websites, I am using, very easy but it doesn't have all the bells and whistles that you may need, they are out there, believe me!
This blog is hosted through Blogger ( and couldn't be any easier to work with.
So don't let the unknown stop you, it's easy!

Friday, July 8, 2011

New Label

I like to change things now and then and labels are always a good thing to take a look at. They do a great job at presenting your product so they need to look their best. The Shampoo bar (affectionately called the "Poo Bar") has always done great, right out the gate! The guys love to shave with it and the fact that there's avocado oil and beer doesn't hurt, everyone else likes it because it does so much. So anyhow, there are the before and after pictures. There are more of the new label because I was trying to let you see how pretty the foil on the new label is.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Banner

So as I told you yesterday, I was making some strides to improve the look of the blog. I found this awesome designer and I had the hardest time deciding which banner to go with. I realize Crows probably have less than nothing to do with soap, but the blog is about much more than soap, that's my reasoning! If you'd like to check out her work, and she also has an enjoyable blog too, .
Still tweaking the blog, but I like it much better. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

a little change

I've been looking at the blogs of other folks and have decided this one could definatley use some work as far as appearance goes, so to that end you'll be seeing some changes in the next few days.
The thrust of this Blog has always been about doing the Farmers Market, my life, and a few Marketing tid-bits thrown in. That will mostly stay the same, although I'm really talking a little more about running a micro-business. It applies to almost any small business, run by one to a few people, and the things I have learned along this journey.
I hope you like the changes, they'll be coming soon :-)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

We went to the Parade today, I love parades and having one in your own hometown like this is very special. The picture is one of the first cool old cars that participated. It was very touching to see so many flags and see the patriotism of our town show itself so clearly.
My favorite gift for the Fourth is knowing that my oldest son James, is back in the States after being in Afghanistan for this past (very LONG) year. I'll see him at the end of the month, but knowing he's here safe and sound is an amazing gift.
Thanks to all who serve, and your families as well.
Happy Independence Day everyone! God Bless the USA!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A few of the latest

These are a few of the new tags for the Gift Bags in muslin. The cool thing is that I can do tags for any holiday or special need! The kitties are very sweet, and the florals are all very sweet too!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Today's Music

One of the fun things about working at the Farmers Market is the entertainment we get, it's usually quite varied and most of it's is pretty good. Now and then you get someone that knows maybe 6 songs, which can get tiresome, but for the most part we have some great talent. Today we had the Swinging Blue Stars and they were so much fun! They were booked because of it being 4th of July weekend, and Thomas the manager of the Pleasanton Farmers Market always does a great job making it festive and fun for everyone. Here's a link to the group we had today, we all enjoyed them very much, I felt like I was watching the Andrews Sisters!

Friday, July 1, 2011

So interesting...

I always meet the most fascinating folks at the Market and I met this really nice lady today and we talked a little about being self-sustaining and urban farming. I was really impressed when I went to her blog, when you go be sure to check out the other blog they write as well, it talks about going a year without buying groceries, meaning they were mostly doing Farmers Markets etc rather than grocery stores. In addition to all of that, there are also recipes. How cool to met someone that doesn't just talk about what they believe, they really LIVE it!