Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wally the Wonder Turtle and I want to wish everyone Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and happy New Year!

It has been another great year and we had so much fun with all of our friends here at the Wonder Turtle Soaps blog, on Facebook, Etsy, and the Teach Soap forum, and at the craft shows. Thank you, everyone, for your support!

This year, we'll be staying close to home and celebrating with family and friends. The family will get together at my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve to eat and exchange gifts, and we'll go to my mom's house Christmas Day to eat even more. I did some of the baking this year, and I made Ginger Cookies, Magic Cookie Bars, and Chocolate Peppermint Mini Bundt cakes. Yum!

Wally the Wonder Turtle has a special holiday message for everyone:
wally here to say merry christmas. wally very excited about santa turtle coming tonight. he go around and see all children turtles but he slow so he need rocket jet pack. santa turtle fly through air delivering gifts that he keep in shell. that must be big shell. i ask mom once, how santa turtle carry all them presents in shell? she say is magic, and that make sense. hope you all have magic holiday too!

And Wally's friend, Sniffles the cat, also has a Christmas message:
Sniffles here. To make sure you have a safe and happy holiday, make sure you cook your holiday turkey to its proper internal temperature to avoid any foodborne illnesses. Also, wash your hands often and thoroughly to prevent communicable diseases. Did you know that germs and bacteria are everywhere, and they never take a holiday? Anyway, have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

What are your plans for the holidays, Wonder Turtle friends? Whatever they are, we wish you all a very happy holiday season!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bramble Berry Soap Swap!

Back in October, Bramble Berry announced that they were sponsoring a soap swap. The rules were that you make 12 bars of soap using the same Bramble Berry fragrance, send them in to Bramble Berry, pay for the return shipping, and then wait for a box of 12 soaps made by 12 other soapers to arrive at your doorstep. There were cold-process and melt-and-pour categories. Yours truly was in the melt-and-pour category, of course, and I swapped my soaps with other melt-and-pour soapers.

Here's my entry (and there they are all packed up and ready to ship on the right):

I used Bramble Berry's Lavender 40/42 and Patchouli essential oils to make a blend. I also used a clear soap baseMauvey Gem mica and a touch of liquid violet colorant to give the soap a sparkly, deep purple color. The mold is Mold Market's Clam Shell mold.

I shrink-wrapped my soaps in plastic wrap, labeled them, and then placed them in cello bags tied off with wrapphia and a tag.

By mid-November, the soaps for the swap were pouring into Bramble Berry HQ. It turned out that over a hundred soapers participated in the swap. That's a lot of soap. (If you check out this Soap Queen blog post, you can spot my soap - it's the first one on the left. Yay!)

This past Monday, my swap package arrived containing 12 soaps from some very talented soapers. I was so excited to see (and sniff) each one! Goodness knows I have enough of my own soap around the house, but it is fun to try other people's soap and see what others are up to.

So here are the soaps I received:

From left to right:
Moroccan Mint by Barclay's Soap Box
Tomato Leaf by Barclay's Soap Box
Grapefruit by The Bubble Bakery

Clockwise from left:
A blend of Watermelon, Summer Fling, Pearberry, and Sun-Ripened Raspberry (and a sweet little pig eraser) by Soap Queen TV
Jersey Beach Bar (Coconut fragrance) by The Paper Mermaid (this bar also contains genuine Cape May sand)
Almond Biscotti by Lisa B's Creations

(By the way, the Soap Queen TV soap arrived in perfect condition - it is dented in the photo because I was a super dork and dropped it on the kitchen floor.)

Clockwise (from back left):
Warm Vanilla Sugar Ball by Morning Glory Naturals Gina S.
Bath Time! (Summer Fling fragrance) by Donna's Creations
Lavender (with crushed lavender buds and embedded Silly Bandz) by Terri's Touch

Clockwise (from back left):
Wasabi Rush by K&C's Bathhouse
Nag Champa and Yuzu by The Bath Snob
Moonlight Pomegranate by Indigo Moon

I had so much fun with this soap swap! Thank you to everyone who participated - you are all amazingly talented, creative soapers! Receiving your soaps was like getting an early Christmas present. :)

And a big thank you to everyone at Bramble Berry for making the soap swap happen, especially Amber and Anne-Marie. I had the pleasure of exchanging several emails with Amber over the course of the swap, and she was always on top of things and super helpful and friendly. And Anne-Marie is always working hard to help us soapers and bath and beauty folks. Thanks for all of your support! (And thank you for the Mangosteen and Sheer Freesia fragrance oil samples! Mmm-mmm!)

Any of you participate in the swap? Please do share! We'd love to see your fun soapy hauls!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Boy, Oh, Boise!

Wow, was my last blog post really on Thanksgiving? Time has just been flying by, and I've been keeping busy, especially what with gearing up for Christmas. I think I just finished up shopping Friday, and I have almost everything wrapped. Next week I need to start planning what I'll be baking for our family get-together.

Also, I've been out of town again. From late October through early December, I was popping out of town every couple of weeks. Our latest globe-trotting adventure took us to Boise, Idaho. My husband, Ken, and I get a kick out of Boise, and this is our third year visiting. You may remember that we went to Boise last year if you've been following this blog for a while. Ken first went to Boise in 2007 during an Air Force TDY to the Air National Guard unit there. He was so smitten with the town that he brought me out there the next year. I loved it, too, and we've been going back each year ever since. There's a lot more to Boise than folks think. People are usually surprised to discover that we vacation there. They usually assume we have family there, and they are surprised that we have no ties to Boise other than our love for it.

We usually go in early November, but decided to go in early December this year, hoping to see the town all festive and Christmas-y. It was, even more so than we had counted on. Before we left, we knew it would be cold. I bought a parka in anticipation of this (I had to order it online - you can't just walk into a store in Florida and buy a parka). We even expected that we might see some light snow. We got snow, but it was not light.

It was snowing when we landed at Boise International. By morning, seven inches of snow had fallen, and it kept right on snowing. The locals all said that this sort of snowfall was rare, particularly for this time of the year. The local newscasters were calling it "the worst snow storm in 20 years." My husband and I have always had a knack for showing up for "the worst ______ since ______."

Being a lifelong Floridian, I am unaccustomed to snow. We handled things pretty well, though - I had my parka, scarf, gloves, ear muffs, and storm hood. I even brought longjohns. I did not have proper shoes, though. Walking around on fresh, firmly-packed snow is not a problem - the problem enters the scenario when the snow begins to melt and turns into slushy, sludgy puddles. After sliding around in my beloved Skechers for a day and a half and sporting wet socks and jeans like a Southern tourist, I broke down and bought a pair of waterproof snow boots. And just to make me feel good about my purchase, it started snowing again a couple of days later. My boots weigh about ten pounds, but they sure get the job done.

Me and Ken at The Reef. (Thanks, Park!)
 When we visit Boise, we have our routine of things we like to do. We even have a few favorite watering holes there. Our time this trip was split between the Bittercreek Alehouse, The Reef, and Old Chicago (where we were also able to watch the Miami Dolphins lose to the Cleveland Browns on NFL Ticket). Favorite beers this trip? The Laughing Dog IPA and the Rogue Yellow Snow IPA. I like IPAs.

We didn't spend the whole trip drinking, though - that would make us alcoholics. We worked in some wholesome daytime activities, too.

We visited Boise State University our first day. I always feel a little bit funny just walking around college campuses, sightseeing, but on this particular day, classes were cancelled due to the snow. So things were quiet on campus. Also, we were heading to the Student Union, trying to get tickets to the BSU football game on Saturday, but the game was pretty much sold out.

We also visited the Boise Art Museum and the Idaho State Historical Museum at Julia Davis Park. The art museum featured lots of beautiful, striking pieces, as well as some works that I clearly didn't get. At the historical museum, we learned about the fishing, mining, fur-trapping, and lumber industries in 19th-century Idaho, as well as the Oregon Trail and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I also learned that doing laundry in the 1800s was an epic nightmare.

Also on the agenda was an Idaho Steelheads hockey game. I'm not much of a hockey fan, but it is fun to go to a live game. And there's always a chance a big gnarly fight will break out on the ice, which the fans love. But I'll bet what would be even more fun is if we were actually present for a win. They played the Alaska Aces Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night while we were in Boise. The Steelheads won on Thursday and Saturday and lost on Friday. Guess which night we went. We have been to three Steelheads games and have yet to be there when they win. And they do win - just not when we're around.

Since we spent the previous day doing indoorsy things, it of course started snowing again on the day when we had outdoorsy things planned. Boise folks are a hardy bunch, though, and the show goes on come rain, snow, sleet, or hellfire. The Capital City Public Market was in full-swing despite the freezing temperatures and snow. I was glad to see one of my favorite Market vendors out there - the Timber Mountain Soap Company out of Meridian, ID. I bought some of Timber Mountain's cold-process soaps last year and just loved them and even though goodness knows I have plenty of my own soap at home, I still wanted some more. I picked up some Lavender Almond, Peppermint and Tea Tree, and Gardener's soap for myself, and Lavender Almond, Orange Patchouli, and Clove Eucalyptus for my mom and dad. We also picked up some white chocolate huckleberry bark, a huckleberry candle, and some huckleberry lip balms for my mom and dad at Taters on the Grove Plaza. (Huckleberry is Idaho's state fruit.)

Coati and "special holiday treat" (a banana).
 We visited Zoo Boise (not Boise Zoo) again, which we do every year. This time was a bit different, though, because the animals were getting their "special holiday treats" on this particular Saturday. We got to only actually see the coati get its holiday treat because we happened to be standing right there. The rest of the time we either couldn't find the animal or the gift-giving went off a few minutes too early for us to get ourselves there on time. For the most part, we pretty much just rolled up on empty cages housing a demolished holiday box.

And we finished our day with a Christmas symphony of tubas. They played jazzy renditions of many classic favorites, as well as one I had not heard before. Something about all Santa wants for Christmas is a tuba. The conductor told us that as a condition of our being present, we all needed to start wishing everyone a "Merry tuba Christmas" from now on. (But I probably won't. Shhh, don't tell.)

We always look forward to going to Boise, and I hope we get to go back next year, too. Everyone is so friendly and the vibe is totally relaxed. If you're looking for a laid-back, hip little college town with plenty of hospitality, personality, and fantastic beer, I highly recommend Boise.

Anyone out there been to Boise, or are you from there or the surrounding areas? Anyone gt some cool upcoming trips planned? Where are some of your favorite vacation spots, Wonder Turtle friends?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wally Sez ... Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is where Wally the Wonder Turtle gets to share his thoughts with the world. Enjoy!

so today is thanksgiving, a day we all think about things that make us thankful. wally thankful for many things.

wally thankful for:

* my family and friends. wally's mom and dad nice turtles that love me and i love them. wally also thankful for jenny, she funny.

Sniffles the cat

* sniffles the cat. sniffles my friend since wally little. wally can't even remember when he no know sniffles! sniffles good friend who do fun stuff with me and give me birthday party.

* my health. wally happy, strong turtle who no get sick often.

* soap. soap not only fun to make and look at and sniff, is also good for getting clean. my friend sniffles the cat thankful for soap too, he say, because lots of germs and diseases out there and soap keep them away. sniffles no thankful for germs.

* my shell. sniffles say he jealous of my shell because i safe everywhere i go. sniffles say, do you know how dangerous it is out here? wally say he never feel scared. sniffles say, thats cuz you got shell on you back! so i guess i thankful for my shell.

* red bow ties. they just look nice.

* smart people. because they make good stuff like airplanes, water purification systems, and roller coasters.

* nice people. they make everything better for everybody.

* goats. they make good cheese, and they funny.

* you. wally thankful for lovely blog readers and wonder turtle friends like you! thank you for reading blog and commenting and being so nice and fun.

this thanksgiving, wally spend time with people he love. wally also spend time with food he love. which remind me, wally also thankful for jennys pies.

Jenny's apple crumb and pecan pies

have a happy thanksgiving, everybody!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Accidents

Hiya, Wonder Turtle friends! Sorry it's been so quiet around here. It has been ca-razy here for the past couple of weeks between popping in and out of town, getting ready for a craft show, and working on a soapy order for a dear friend!

(By the way, tomorrow, Saturday, November 20, I will be at the Santa's Workshop Craft Show at the Navarre Conference Center from 9-4, so if you're in the Navarre, FL area, please drop by and say howdy!)

Anyway, I recently had an awesome happy accident. You know how you have one thing in mind and it doesn't work out, but what emerges is still just as cool or even cooler? That's what happened to me in the soaping kitchen a little while back.

I was making some Lavender soap with my loaf mold, and I was aiming for a particular effect. I've seen two-layered soaps, especially cold-process soaps, that have a bottom layer that's one color with another layer on top of it that's another color. The two layers kinda mingle just a little bit, making the middle a little wispy and uneven.

Here's what I said to myself: I'll bet I could do that with melt-and-pour. I'll just pour a layer of one color halfway up my mold, and then immediately pour another color the rest of the way up. It'll be like when I double-pour side-by-side except this time I'll pour up-and-down - the colors will each stay on their side as long as I pour cool enough. 

Yeah, I know. It sounds ridiculous to me now as I type it, but that was what was going through the ol' noggin. Unfortunately, when I was concocting this plan, I forgot about the existence of a very minor thing called gravity.

So, I poured my cooled purple layer of Lavender-scented goat's milk soap halfway up the mold. So far so good. Then I immediately poured my cooled layer of white soap on top of it. For some reason, I was surprised when the white soap just disappeared into the purple soap, which rose to the top of the mold. To make matters worse, ugly patches of white mottled the surface of the purple soap.

"Well, fiddlesticks, that didn't work!" I muttered to myself. (Those of you who know me probably can guess that is not exactly what I said, but, hey, this is a family show.) I was tempted to just pour the soap out of the mold, mix it all together to make a uniform purple loaf, and repour. But I thought, No, just leave it alone and see how it turns out.

The next day, I nervously picked up my mold and inspected it. When I flipped it over to see the top, I felt my hopes stir. The white soap had pooled at the bottom (or top, really) in an intruiging way, and I wondered if the middle of the soap looked just as interesting. I popped it out of the mold and eagerly cut into it.

And, boy, was I glad that I had left it alone! Delicate swirls of purple wafted around the white portions of soap, like I had totally intended for that to happen. I had accidentally discovered a really cool technique that I can actually use.

I love a happy ending. Have you, dear readers, had any happy accidents of your own, soaping or otherwise? Please do share - Wally the Wonder Turtle and I would love to hear about them!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Road Trip: Orlando!

Last Friday, my dad, my mom, and I hopped in the Jeep and drove to Orlando, FL to spend Halloween weekend at Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, and Epcot. We rented a condo in Kissimmee, and my brother (Kyle) and his fiancĂ©e (Kristina) drove down from Atlanta to join us.

When I was little, we would usually go to Disney World at least once a year, but I had not been to Disney or Universal Studios in almost eleven years. It had been about 25 years since I had been to Epcot.

Saturday, we descended upon Universal Studios. We hit just about everything we wanted to at the park because the crowds were surprisingly light. I'm a fan of the thrill rides, and while
"Shrek 4-D" and the Animal Actors show were cool and all, I was ready for something a bit more intense. Boy, did I find it.

Early in the day, Kyle, Kristina, and I lined up to ride the Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It. This is a beast of a roller coaster. While we were all standing in line, we couldn't help but notice that the ride begins with you on your back, going straight up. Next comes a steep drop followed by a corkscrew loop. The rest of the ride features plenty of steep drops and twists and turns. I was a little apprehensive, but when I noticed all of the 8-year-olds boarding the ride, I figured that if they could do it, so could I. When you get into your seat, you have the option of choosing a song to play through your seat's speakers. I rode the Rip Ride twice. The first time, I was so busy making sure that my harness was actually secure that I missed my chance to choose a song. I don't even remember what song played. The second time, though, I was a bit more confident and chose The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage." Check out this video my dad shot - this is the car that Kyle, Kristina, and I were on. We're on the second and third rows of the front car.

It was a wild ride. As soon as we got off the coaster, Kyle and I tried to get my dad to go on it. It took us all day to convince him that he needed to do it, and he eventually did. Kyle and I rode it again later with Dad, and, fortunately, Dad really liked it and was glad he went. I would have felt really bad if he had hated it and thrown up everywhere.

The Revenge of the Mummy ride was also pretty cool. It's a bit Space Mountain-ish in the sense that it's a roller coaster in the dark. And The Simpsons Ride was awesome - it's a very convincing thrill-ride simulator. We're all big Simpsons fans anyway and rarely get through a day without making some sort of a Simpsons reference.

Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, me, Kyle, Kristina, and the DeLorean
Characters from movies and TV also roam around the park, and I got to meet Bart Simpson and Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown from the "Back to the Future" movies.

We finished out the day at Margaritaville. We could have gone to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, but opted to just enjoy the parks during the day instead.

Cinderella's castle at WDW
The next day (Halloween- boo!) was the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. We hit most of the rides that we wanted to and visited some of them twice. The highlights for me at the Magic Kingdom are Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain. The Haunted Mansion and the Mad Tea Party rides are also favorites. (My mom and I were bummed, though, that the Mad Tea Party teacup ride was closed because they were doing some sort of maintenance on it. If you're not familiar with it, you sit in a big teacup, which rotates around a giant tea kettle. Inside your teacup is a wheel that you can turn to make your individual car spin around. I learned the hard way to never look up when your cup is spinning because you won't get your head back down until the ride stops.)

Thunder Mountain is a tame roller coaster compared to Space Mountain and the Rip Ride, and it is supposed to be like a runaway train on a Gold Rush-era train track. Space Mountain is a bit more intense - it's basically a roller coaster in the dark meant to simulate a wild ride in deep space. Of course, after the Rip Ride coaster at Universal, even Space Mountain seemed tame.

Then came Splash Mountain. Most of the ride is a gentle river cruise through Brer Rabbit-land. There is a big drop at the end, though, and that's the main attraction of the ride. Plus, there is the potential that you will get wet. Very wet. And get very wet we did.

Splash Mountain
My brother and I were in the front row of our car. The ride starts out by cruising past the eventual drop at the end. As a car drops, water cannons shoot a spray of water out for effect. The timing was impeccable as we passed by the cannons - we got nailed. I was looking in Kyle's direction when I saw a look of horror on his face. I braced myself for impact and then felt a sensation not unlike someone dumping a bucket of water over my head. We got soaked or, as Kyle put it, "destroyed." We laughed and laughed, though, and it was good that we had a sense of humor about it because we caught a tidal wave again at the big drop. All of the water came crashing over the front of the car, soaking us for a second time. By the end of the ride, Kyle was all disheveled and his hair was sticking up all crazy. I told him that he looked like Will Ferrell's Harry Caray character on "Saturday Night Live," which led him to do a spot-on impression. ("Hey ... if you were a potato ... would you eat yourself?")

Kyle and me, post-Splash Mountain
Thank goodness it was a warm day. We dried out pretty quickly, although I had a wet butt for about half the day. (All that sitting around at lunch and on the rides.)

Finally, we went to Epcot on Monday. Epcot doesn't have tons of thrill rides, but "Mission: SPACE" was pretty cool. It's a simulator meant to mimic a space mission to Mars. There's a mild version and an intense version option - Kyle and I immediately went for the intense option while everyone else tried out the mild version first. Later, we all went on the intense version together and the concensus was that the intense option is quite a bit different from the mild, g-force-wise. Basically, you're sitting in a giant centrifuge that spins around and creates the sensation of pulling g's during a vertical takeoff. The simulation also features some drops and thrashing around as you make your way to Mars. Very cool stuff.

Also neat was the "Soarin'" attraction, which simulates a hang-gliding adventure across California. You sit in a row of seats meant to look like a hang glider. You're picked up, feet dangling, and brought up to an IMAX screen. The seats move, making you feel like you're really flying. My dad flies a powered paraglider, so he especially enjoyed the ride.

We also visited "Ellen's Energy Adventure." The best part about it was the brief ride through a robotic dinosaur-land. Some sort of river-drinking dinosaur spit water right in my face, too. This was not a good trip for staying dry.

The Test Track ride was also fun. The premise of the ride is that you're in a car that is put through rigorous road-condition tests. It ends with a fast downhill ride meant to test its top speed.

And we spent some time walking around all of the different countries. We had a nice lunch at Mexico's San Angel Inn, which features an Aztec pyramid and a periodically-erupting volcano (and excellent Blood Orange margaritas).

San Angel Inn in "Mexico"
We didn't make it to the Imagination Pavillion with Figment the purple dragon. I remember that place being really cool when I was a kid, and I even had a Figment plush doll. I wonder if I would still think it's cool 25 years later?

And, no, I still haven't been inside the Epcot ball. I have no idea what's in there.

At the end of the third day, we were ready to head back to the condo and relax with a few brews. I brought Trivial Pursuit, and we played that until we were falling asleep sitting up.

The weekend was fast-paced but fun. I had been wanting to go back to Orlando for a while now, and I'm glad that we were all able to go. The crowds were lighter than usual, and the weather was nice although I wouldn't have cried if it had been a bit cooler. My mom was hoping for cooler weather, too, but we didn't quite time the cold fronts right. It was warm (mid-80s and sunny and dry), but at least it wasn't rainy or humid. And there were no illnesses, accidents, or major mishaps. Everyone made it through the trip healthy and happy, which is always a victory. I went on a skiing trip once about 12 or 13 years ago and it was a nightmare. Another travelmate and I fought the entire time, I crashed on the bunny hill and hurt both of my knees, and on top of everything another travelmate got food poisoning. Worst. Vacation. Ever.

All in all, we had a great time and I hope everyone enjoyed the trip as much as I did! (And in case you were wondering if Wally the Wonder Turtle came on this trip, here's a photo of him playing Trivial Pursuit with Eeyore.)

If you've been to Disney, Universal, or Epcot, what's your favorite atttraction, Wonder Turtle friends?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Craft Show Recap: "Country Bayou"

Me and my soaps before the show
I hope you aren't tired of my craft show posts, Wonder Turtle friends. I've been doing a lot of them lately - three this month alone. (For the locals, my next craft show is the "Santa's Workshop Craft Fair" at the Navarre Conference Center, FL on November 20 from 9-4. See the "Events" tab on my Facebook Page for more info.)

Last Saturday was the "Bayou Country Craft Show" at Niceville United Methodist Church. We had a fantastic day! (By "we" I don't mean me and my other personalities - at least, not this time. I mean me and my mom, my booth buddy.)

My booth was in the main gymnasium area. We set up the day before, which is something I used to not do. I used to worry about leaving my stuff overnight, but it's rare for any mayhem to occur and it certainly takes a lot of stress out of getting ready the morning of the show. I might wait until the morning of to set up if the show is farther away and just hope that there aren't any surprises.

Shoppers were already starting to arrive while we were taking care of the finishing touches on my booth. I took this to be a good sign, hoping that perhaps it would be a busy day! I had heard good things about this show, and this was my first year participating. I missed it last year for some reason.

I managed to sneak off before the show officially started to visit the Pumpkin Patch. The Patch didn't open until later in the morning, so I was able to walk around and get some lovely pumpkin pics! I remember my dad carving a pumpkin one year when I was little. He cut out rectangles for the eyes, stuck toothpicks into the edge of the rectangles, and then stuck the rectangles on either side of the pumpkin for ears. With its sharp-toothed grin, our pumpkin looked like a Gremlin. It was awesome.

I had scrambled all week to restock my table. I had a good day the Saturday before at Shalimar's Holly Fair and needed to make my table look full again. It's funny - I can take 150 bars to a show, but it never looks like that much once I get it all on the table.

My table at the end of the day

And, boy, was I glad that I had my table fully stocked ... one of my dear friends stopped by and bought 25 bars from me for Christmas presents! (Thank you, dear friend! I won't mention your name in the extremely unlikely event that one or more of your friends may see this post and possibly have their holiday surprise ruined.)

 My dad stopped by, too, and it was very nice to see him. (I should have asked him to pick out a pumpkin so we could make a Halloween Gremlin again.) Thanks, Dad!

I also saw some neighbors at the show and a high school teacher that I had not seen in over 15 years. It's fun to bump into people and catch up.

It was very busy almost all day, and lots of folks turned out for the show. I was up and talking to people most of the day. I love when shows are busy - it is so much more interesting. Days get very, very long when things are slow.

I had an energizing and rewarding day. And when I got home, I was surprised to find an email from someone who had been at the show and had bought a bar from me - she wanted to let me know how much she loved her soap! I thought it was so sweet of her to take the time to contact me, and her kind words really made my day.

Plus, I bought more cupcakes at the bake sale at the show, and I managed to get them into the house without destroying them this time.

Great success!

Thank you to all of the organizers and volunteers at this year's Bayou Country Craft Show. Thank you also to everyone who came out and visited Wonder Turtle Soaps! And thank you to my mom for being my booth buddy again!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Craft Show Recap: "Holly Fair"

It's been a busy week in the soaping kitchen, Wonder Turtle friends! I figure I better get a post up about my last craft show before my next one rolls around in less than two days! (For the locals, my next show is at the Niceville UMC this Saturday, October 23, from 8:30-2:30. Check out my upcoming craft show schedule for more info.)

Last Saturday, Wonder Turtle Soaps was at Shalimar UMC's "Holly Fair." The show was a great success, as it was last year. Shalimar UMC has been putting on this show for 14 years, so it is very organized and runs like a well-oiled machine. The staff and volunteers are so nice and helpful, too.

Almost done setting up
The Holly Fair attracts a lot of vendors and shoppers, which makes for a great, lively atmosphere. I was upstairs and shared a room with two other vendors. The church gymnasium was also full of vendor booths, and the courtyard outside also had some booths.

So many nice folks came by my table to chat, and some of them went home with a few bars of soap that I hope will make them (or a lucky gift recipient) very happy! It seemed like a lot of people had soaping stories of their own, and it's always fun to swap soaping stories. Lots of folks were curious about the soapmaking process, and many asked me about the origin of the name "Wonder Turtle Soaps." I explained that I chose the turtle because I am very much like a turtle myself - I am slow, cautious, and deliberate, and I retreat into myself when threatened. (And rest assured that absolutely no turtles are harmed in the making of any Wonder Turtle Soaps.)

The gymnasium downstairs
I got a great suggestion at this show, too, and I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner - several people suggested that I needed a shaker of whole coffee beans to help clear overwhelmed noses. So at the next show I will have a couple of salt shakers full of coffee beans to make sniffing easier!

Also, because I've been doing craft shows for about a year now, I see many of the same people - both vendors and shoppers - again and again. I remember them and they remember me and my mom (my booth buddy), and we've all become very friendly with each other, which is fun.

Lavender was the big hit at this show. At the end of the day, I had one lonely bar of Lavender left and my Lavender Patchouli sold out (but no worries, I made more of both!). It's interesting to see what the big sellers are show-to-show. Sometimes I'll think that something will just fly off the table, but then something else ends up being the favorite. And at each show, it's different. I always try to keep the perennial favorites well-stocked, though. And I restocked my holiday soap inventory since it's getting to be that time of year!

Ken and me
My husband, Ken, stopped by to see us during the middle of the day. He's sweet about coming by to visit, and he also usually makes me his World Famous Bean Burritos for dinner after a craft show. Craft shows are fun, but at the end of the day, I'm ready to chill, so he handles the cooking and we hang out at home. Sweet, huh?

Because I knew he was cooking dinner, I thought I'd bring home something for dessert. The Holly Fair also had a bakery two doors down from my room, so I paid them a visit with my wallet in hand. I desperately wanted pumpkin bread, and I did find a loaf of sweet, spicy, glorious pumpkin bread. I also wanted something icky-sweet and cake-y, and when I spied some individually-wrapped cupcakes with fluffy frosting and sparkly sugar sprinkles on top, I thought, bingo!

They would have been perfect for a post-burrito dessert, but ...

I succeeded in keeping the cupcakes in pristine shape during the day, and I lovingly set them in a safe place when we loaded my mom's Jeep after the show. Somewhere between the Jeep and my house, though, tragedy struck. After the cupcakes were smashed, Ken didn't find them especially appetizing (picky, picky), which meant more cupcakes for me.

It was a wonderful day at the Holly Fair - pulverized    cupcakes notwithstanding - and I'm hoping Niceville UMC's "Bayou Country Craft Show" this Saturday goes well, too. From everything I hear, it should be a great show. (Thank you to all of the craft show organizers, and to everyone who comes out to the shows!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Seaside Getaway

The last couple of weeks have been hectic, and by last Friday I was feeling more than just a little burned out. I was glad to finally have a long holiday weekend where nothing much was going on so I could recharge and decompress.

Last weekend, the weather was stunningly beautiful, so my husband and I took a drive to Seaside, FL for a short day trip on Saturday.

Seaside is an idyllic planned community of sea cottages and cute little shops and restaurants alongside the Gulf of Mexico just beyond Sandestin in Northwest Florida. Seaside is about a 45-minute drive away from my neighborhood, and we're lucky that we can just hop in the car and be there in no time.

We are quite proud of Seaside here in the Panhandle because it served as the fictional town of Seahaven in 1998's "The Truman Show" starring Jim Carrey.

Only Seaside is real. It exists, and, yes, it really looks like Seahaven. We enjoy popping over there every once in a while because it's just so darn nice. It's almost like being on another planet.

The beach is the main attraction, of course, and during our visit on this warm Columbus Day weekend, there were plenty of beachgoers enjoying the surf and sand. (And, as you can see, there's no trace of oil on the beaches from the BP spill - our gorgeous sugar-white sand is still sugar-white, and the waters of the Emerald Coast are still emerald green!)

You would think that I would be at the beach all the time, living so close to it. So many people pay big bucks to come down here to enjoy what's just a short car drive for me. But the truth is, I haven't been to the beach in years. Well, I guess what I should say is that I haven't been to the beach for the purpose of hanging out in the sand and going in the water for years. When I go to the beach, it's usually just to snap a few photos. If it's the off-season, it's nice to walk along the water's edge for a bit. Honestly, though, the traditional hot-weather "going to the beach" experience is just too much of a sweaty, messy hassle for me anymore. I was probably spoiled growing up with these gorgeous beaches in my backyard. When I was a kid, we were out on the Hobie or visiting the beaches a lot. As an adult, though, I can rarely be found at the beach or on the water.

Anyway, a couple of my favorite independent shops in Seaside are Sundog Books and Central Square Records, both housed in the same building. Sundog Books is a cute little book shop with a lot of local flair. They have mainstream books there, but they also have gorgeous coffee table books about Seaside and coastal living, regional cookbooks, and other souvenirs. And upstairs at Central Square Records is a hip little space filled with new and vintage CDs and records (large, grooved vinyl things that are played on an ancient machine called a "turntable"). Both stores have a cool, coffeehouse vibe about them. A sweet black dog even wanders around the bookstore - I don't know the dog's name, so I just call him Sundog.

The Modica Market is another favorite. It's a neat little grocery store with a deli and a bakery and lots of gourmet items. We picked up a yummy jar of spicy-sweet peach salsa and a slice of orange Sunshine Cake during our previous visit. And Modica Market was also featured in "The Truman Show" - Truman's buddy was stocking a vending machine there in one scene.

Our little trip to Seaside was a nice getaway for the day. Clear blue skies, beach breezes, and the gentle swooshes of the waves certainly soothe the soul. It's easy to forget your worries when you're in a place like Seaside. It seems inconceivable that any problems could exist here, but I'm sure they do.

If you ever have the opportunity to come out this way, I highly recommend it. (Just please mind the lifeguards and our beach safety flag system!)